Labour has become the nasty party
The tables are now reversed. It is Eric Pickles warning Tories that they face dismissal if they engage in dirty tricks campaigning. It is Labour - from the very top - that has deserted all claims to the moral high ground.
After the McBride emails you would have hoped that Labour would have learnt its lesson... but clearly not.
First Harriet Harman bracketed the Tories with the BNP in a fundraising email but she then took things to a new low during the Labour Party Conference when - completely dishonestly - she said that George Osborne wanted to replace a SureStart in every community with a lapdancing club. There is no other word for that than a lie. And a disreputable lie at that.
Gordon Brown has, of course, set the tone when it comes to honesty. His Porky Pies have been a feature of Westminster politics for some time. Remember his claim that he didn't look at opinion polls when he bottled an autumn 2007 election? In the last few months he attempted to claim that the choice at the election was between Tory cuts and Labour investment. He had to abandon the line after every journalist in Westminster told the Labour machine that it was unbelievable. A leak of Treasury papers to George Osborne proved the dishonesty of the Brown position. At the time Telegraph columnist Benedict Brogan wrote this devastating paragraph:
"Fascinating that the Shadow Chancellor has this morning accused the Prime Minister of lying and there isn’t a collective intake of breath. Do that in the House of Commons and even this Speaker will call you out. For one rt hon gentleman to challenge the integrity of another would once have provoked if not outrage then at least tut-tuts of disapproval. But here was George Osborne on the Today programme trumpeting his secret documents: “Gordon Brown has misled the public, he has misled the Commons, he was not telling the truth.” And if there is no reaction, it is because we have collectively come to the same view, that the Prime Minister cannot be trusted to tell us the truth. How depressing."
Gordon Brown repeatedly said that he was following military chiefs' counsel on Afghanistan. Last week General Sir Richard Dannatt revealed that his advice on extra troops had been spurned. Dannatt was only the latest in a long list of people that the Labour machine has attempted to smear over the years. Remember the Paddington train crash survivor, Pam Warren? Shami Chakrabarti? Rose Addis? Sir Michael Willcocks? David Kelly?
On Friday Ben Bradshaw became part of the Labour problem when he attempted to use Ivan Cameron's healthcare against the Tory leader. He tastelessly tweeted: "the camerons got good nhs care thanks to Labour’s investment and reform. Is this the ‘big government’ the derides". David Blackburn called the Culture Secretary's comment "unedifying" and "shaming".
I don't think any member of the government has sunk lower. however, than David Miliband. He holds one of the great offices of state but - again today - seems more interested in positioning himself for the looming Labour leadership battle. Accusations of anti-Semitism and racism should never be made lightly but in the Miliband book you are guilty until proven innocent. William Hague has already protested in the strongest terms at Miliband's slurs on Latvia but a Labour Party with almost no cards to play is not interested in fair play.
This post could go on and on. I haven't touched on the policy retreats from the moral high ground - including the abandonment of an ethical foreign policy and the poor getting poorer - but this all fits into the enormous opportunity available to the Conservative Party over the next few years. Labour's ethical failures are just one reason why a fundamental realignment of British politics is possible in the coming years.