While the Westminster media bubble ponders the latest “what if” speculation about who might or might not stand in the forthcoming Newark by-election, there has been a most unseemly rush to take credit for the richly deserved downfall of departing MP Patrick Mercer. Yes, the Telegraph and BBC can jointly claim the lion’s share for their sting exposing Mercer’s greed, but one name has been forgotten.
Step forward the serially tenacious Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads fame, whose exposure of Mercer’s distinctly dodgy dealings, his love of securing More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now, and a blithering technophobia that left a supposedly worldly-wise Tory MP open to being exploited by a number of con artists and other charlatans, preceded Mercer’s stinging.
What Ireland’s experience has also shown is the tendency of some politicians to react to adverse criticism by either smearing their accusers, getting someone else to smear or do them down, or a combination of both. Mercer’s “friends” made some quite disgraceful accusations against Ireland. It didn’t work. This succeeded only in drawing attention to the MP’s cluelessness. Disaster followed.
Oh God no ... look, can't you shine that damned spotlight somewhere else?
But back to the exposure of the soon to be former MP for Newark: Mercer was hot on counter terrorism. He was also to prove gullible. Mercer was taken in by a pair of moderately accomplished but cretinously stupid shysters called Glen Jenvey and Dominic Wightman. Ireland warned Mercer of their less than total reliability and probity. Mercer, it seems, did not want to know.
Patrick Mercer (right) with Dominic Whiteman, Oct 2006
Ireland then noted Mercer’s enviable ability to score fees from a variety of media outlets in exchange for his supposedly authoritative take on “National Security”. And it was this appetite for those little extras that brought the Newark MP to the attention of those who ultimately arranged his exposure. Plus, one comment Mercer made in a telephone conversation with Ireland linked in another MP.
The fragrant Nadine: a smear too far?
“Are you broadcasting this?” Mercer demanded of Ireland. Have a think about that. One might suspect the other party of recording a conversation, but broadcasting? Where can he have got that, especially given Ireland’s discovery that Mercer was a technophobe? But the timing of the question gives the game away: just after the 2010 General Election, and an incident in the Bedfordshire town of Flitwick.
Tim Ireland, at the invitation of concerned constituents, attended a hustings event, recording and also broadcasting it. The concern was over the behaviour of (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries. Ms Dorries made a number of defamatory assertions at the time and viciously smeared Ireland later. Mercer’s “friends” did his smearing; Ms Dorries joined in with hers. Mercer got stung. He is on his way out.
What goes around comes around. I shall say no more.