Saturday, 10 March 2012

Decency can go too far

On "The Week in Westminster" today, Chris Skidmore MP tells of when as an overworked researcher in Conservative Central Office he accidentally CCed details of Conservative policy to be announced at the 2007 conference to Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, instead of his mucker Matthew Hancock, now MP for West Suffolk. Gordon Brown had been not-so-secretly preparing for a general election which he would almost certainly have won, if narrowly. George Osborne's bombshell of a proposal to cut inheritance tax was generally seen as a vote-catcher in those apparently prosperous times and was credited with panicking Brown into abandoning his election plans.

If Mike Hancock had leaked the Conservative prospectus, it would have given Liberal Democrat and Labour strategists time to assess what real effect Osborne's tax proposals would have on Labour's vote. The general election (which Liberal Democrats had been pressing for since Brown had become leader) might well have gone ahead.

Instead Mike, having realised what had happened, thought "there but the grace of God go I", and passed the email on to its proper destination. He recalled on today's radio programme that the LibDem hierarchy were rather cross when he let on afterwards that he had had this hot information. I must admit that I am on their side.

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