Thursday, January 08, 2009

Conservatives should ban blood sports!

A provocative headline, and a misleading one. I'm not talking about the activities of country folk on horseback, but the popular Westminster sport of back-stabbing. The latest bout of speculation about a possible reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet has led to several members of David Cameron's team falling victim to what one blog called 'friendly fire' - anonymous briefing against them by colleagues.

Let's be clear - it's not friendly, and it's those who do it who should be fired. One report on Conservative Home alleges that Shadow Business Secretary Alan Duncan was briefed against by a senior party official. This is utterly unacceptable, and the person responsible should be identified and sacked from their post. As well as being disloyal, they are also guilty of gross stupidity - Alan Duncan is a very effective and able Shadow Minister, and a smooth media performer, who certainly doesn't deserve the criticism he has received from cowardly anonymous voices.

Conservatives have too often resorted to backstabbing in the last few decades, and the description of it as a sport is accurate - it is seen almost as a game, which those taking part in enjoy - planting poison in a journalist's ear, gossiping about who's up, who's down, and trying to avoid getting knifed themselves. Such Westminster intrigue appeals to a lot of people, but not to the public, or to party members in the country. I'm as guilty as anyone else of enjoying the occasional gossip or a bit of political manoevering, but this should never spill over into public squabbling. That way lies disunity and disaster. Will we never learn?


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