Who’ll come out best from the Green arrest?
This morning I was expecting to be writing about a new voting intention poll following Monday’s PBR statement. Well that appears to have been held over because of the explosive political story that broke last night over the arrest of the Tory shadow immigration minister, Damian Green, by police investigating a series of leaks from the Home Office.
Clearly this is a developing story which from what we know at the moment looks like a gift to the Tory leader, David Cameron.
The question that’s likely to dominate the coverage will be how much ministers, particularly the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, knew of what was planned?
Apparently the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was made aware so its hard to think that the Home Secretary was out of the loop. The other problems for the government are that the leaks related to one of the biggest political hot potatoes – immigration policy – and that the Tories can claim that all they were doing was to bring information that should have been available into the public domain.
Unless Green has done something really terrible in his relationship with the leaker and the leaks the “public good” defence, is going to look powerful. The opposition’s job, anyway, is to hold the government to account.
The media, of course, has a great interest in leaking because it provides a source of stories and generally coverage is sympathetic to “whistle-blowers”. Also leaking to the opposition like this is common place in British politics as we saw during the final days of the Major government in the 1992-1997 period.
So this story is going to run and, no doubt, the Tories will try to pin the blame on Brown.
Whatever the affair provides a platform for the Tories to get coverage on the front pages and in the bulletins and that of itself could lead to opinion poll moves.
0900 PLEASE NOTE: I am just about to leave to visit friends in deepest Devon where there is no internet access or mobile reception. The last time we were there was during the New Hampshire primary in January and I had to drive to the top of a hill a few miles away in order to get the barest of reception.
We’ll be there until Monday and the site will be in the capable hands of Morus and Double Carpet.