It's money that led McBride to the Daily Mail. But at what price?

There's something Karmically dubious in making capital from close acquaintances

Share

As disingenuous statements go, Damian McBride's assertion that he didn't want the revelatory account of his time as a government spin doctor to distract attention from the serious matters being discussed at the Labour conference is quite something. It's up there with “I sold the book to the Daily Mail because I've always admired their journalism, and I knew they wouldn't sensationalise anything I wrote about”. Or indeed Ed Balls trying to make us believe that he had not a clue about the shocking acts of political skulduggery that were taking place around him.

On the day a survey conducted by a parliamentary committee reports that trust in politics has fallen by more than 20 per cent over the past five years, it is hard to know which aspect of McBridegate (it's only a matter of time!) is the most reprehensible: the book itself, or the protestations of innocence that have attended it.

The one thing that must be acknowleged about the book is that it is well written. McBride has a gift for evoking the absurdities of high politics, and he has a neat turn of phrase. His account of how people emerged from long exposure to Gordon Brown - “often, after Gordon made a car journey, you'd see staff members step out of the vehicle with him, carrying the blank look of a US soldier released from a Vietnamese prison camp...relieved the ordeal was over but unsure whether life could ever feel the same again” - will have struck a chord with those who had regular dealings with him.

But McBride didn't set out to win a literary prize. In fact, it's safe to assume that he didn't have a noble purpose at all. Did he want to shine a light on the corruption that exists in the interface between politics and the media? Did he want to expose the dark arts practised by those in power? Was he on a mission to strip away the carapace from our political leaders? No, not really. The main reason he spent many hours in front of his computer was to earn a few quid. And the more salacious and controversial he could make this tome, the more he was going to make from it.

I would hazard a guess that, even as he was crafting a wounding metaphorical flourish, he had one eye on how it would look across pages 22 and 23 of the Daily Mail. Nothing wrong with that. We all have to pay the bills, and Mr McBride is nothing if not a pragmatist, knowing there was a ready market for his brand of scuttlebuck. But there must be something morally, or Karmically, dubious in seeking to monetise one's own experiences, or in making capital off what other people have said to you in unguarded moments, or in using proximity to power as a means of self-aggrandisement.

The diary is a legitimate literary form, and our understanding of history has been helped by the recollections of the the rich, the famous, the powerful. But the eavesdropper? The bit player? The wing man? The proliferation of memoirs such as McBride's, entertaining though they may be, does little but to weaken further public faith in the political process.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
 

The digital world is incredible – but it’s human bonds that make us who we are

Joanna Shields
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness