The focus on expense returns for all those Tory MPs returned at last year’s General Election has not included one well-known group, that of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Although Staines posted on the Tories’ troubles at the beginning, the Fawkes blog has of late been playing “look over there”, going after Lib Dem and Labour candidates, and saying that “they were all at it”.
And it is not only here on Zelo Street that Staines’ handbrake U-Turn has been detected: yesterday, he was challenged on his lack of coverage on the Tories’ problems - which have seen several Police forces investigate complaints. Presented with the Independent’s map showing all those investigations, Staines’ reply was “Am amused by people who despite us being among the first to report Tory cases say that whilst ignoring other party's cases”.
What you will not see at the Fawkes blog
But, as I’ve already pointed out, that was then, and this is now, where it’s all very different. The Tweeter otherwise known as LoonyLefty was unimpressed: “Yeah I'm calling bullshit on that Guido, as your recent Twitter stats would indicate”. Quite. And Staines still wasn’t answering the question. “So why haven't you reported every time a new police force has been involved? That seems like BIG news to me”.
So would Sir care to take this issue seriously? Sadly, no he wouldn’t: “One of us runs the most successful political news site in the UK. The other describes himself as a loony. Who knows news best?” What “successful political news site” would that be? The BBC? Mail Online? The Guardian? ITV? Sky News? The Huffington Post? Perhaps we should look at just how much “political news” the Fawkes blog puts out.
And the answer is that there is precious little of that: last night, there was a late post effectively lauding the EU Leave campaign for trying to frighten voters over migration. This morning, there has been a snarky post about Piers Corbyn, in whom they had no interest at all until his brother became Labour leader, and then more EU Leave campaign propaganda in the shape of an attack on Alan Sugar. Political news my arse.
The claim clearly did not impress LoonyLefty, who pointed out “Given that 19 police forces are investigating 29 MPs, a resignation of a Tory Chairman and you report on Cat Smith? Laughable”. Staines and his rabble have actually accused Ms Smith directly of malpractice, even though they don’t have the evidence to back it up.
What did The Great Guido have to say to that? Only the lame “Everyone has biases. We do however go after all parties. Obviously it is business with the Tories and pleasure with Labour”, which is baloney. So is Staines’ claim to Martin Collinson that “They are all at it”. As Peter Jukes pointed out some time ago, Staines and his pals are effectively a disownable branch of CCHQ. They are doing nothing on Tory election expenses now.
That’s because they are far more useful to their preferred party pretending that everyone else is at it. Meanwhile, they cross their fingers and hope that, once again, their side gets away with it. Thus the shame of The Great Guido. Another fine mess, once again.