The last few days of scandal about the Tory government have had a curious, ‘off’ feel. Not because Tory ministers and MPs have abused their power and privilege in sleazy ways – that’s no surprise at all. But because of the bizarre train of events and the sources of leaked information.
The Latin phrase cui bono means ‘who benefits?’. It is a legal or investigative term for a principle of who benefits from a particular situation or event. It does not establish guilt, but can help investigators narrow down their field of enquiry. Who has benefited from the bizarre leak and subsequent events? Let’s have a look.
A list was released that was alleged to have been compiled by Tory ‘whips’ of alleged sexual misdeeds and liaisons by Tory MPs, including a number of Cabinet ministers. It was said that this information was held to facilitate the enforcement of party discipline – i.e. to be used by the whips to ‘persuade’ potential rebels to vote in line with the wishes of the party leadership.
The information was leaked to, and published by, one of the worst of the right-wing online sites. Not the most obvious outlet for someone who had hold of damaging information on the Tory party. It was helped to spread by Murdoch rag the S*n – a right-wing publication a long way to the right of the political spectrum. Initially all the main details were blacked out.
The initial primary target of the leaks appears to have been deputy-PM Damian Green. The S*n published a version of the list that the original right-wing publisher of the redacted list claimed linked Green with it – and the right-wing S*n echoed the explicit allegation a day later.
In the event, Green stayed in post and instructed libel lawyers to take action against as-yet unspecified people/organisations – but Defence Secretary Michael Fallon admitted one incident involving a right-wing journalist and then, yesterday, resigned amid rumours that further allegations were about to surface.
At first glance, all this might look like a disastrous misstep by the Tories. One of their own – presumably – leaks a ‘Tory sex-pest’ list and the government is rocked. A senior ally of the Prime Minister resigns, another is associated with the list by right-wing media and Theresa May has an incoherent meltdown during PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) when challenged about her failure to act on three previous notifications of the kind of behaviour contained in ‘the list’.
The original list, if it is genuine, was compiled and held by the Tory whips.
Today, the Chief Whip has been appointed as the new Defence Secretary, one of the most senior Cabinet posts – and the appointment seems to have confounded and horrified, in equal measure, other ministers and Westminster journalists alike:
The leaking of the ‘dossier’ has led in a very short time to the promotion of the person in presumed charge of the dossier, if genuine, to a very senior ministerial position – a promotion that, based on the above reaction, would have been unimaginable to other senior Tories.
And that may not be the end of it. As one Westminster journalist noted:
Certainly it would seem that at least some of his colleagues wouldn’t put it past him to exploit the situation for personal gain:
At the same time, in what functions as a ‘two birds with one stone’ manoeuvre, various Tory grandees are now talking about the ‘scandal’ of the list being circulated by ‘anonymous social media accounts’, as if the problem is not sexually predatory – allegedly – MPs and Cabinet ministers and their behaviour, but the fact that the information got out.
Potentially paving the way for a clampdown on social media, one for which many independent left media outlets – including the SKWAWKBOX – have predicted that the government has been manoeuvring for some time.
Which would definitely be of benefit to the Tories – including whoever replaces Theresa May.
Pure accident? Possibly. But if someone did create the scandal with a view to a change of top personnel with a side-order of social media suppression, it would be a manoeuvre straight out of House of Cards.
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