Thursday, October 23, 2008


"Corfugate" Still Running as a News Story

I didn't think the Osborne 'Corfugate' business would survive more than a day in the headlines but I was wrong. It's now on the inside pages but there could still be legs in the story if someone decides to make an official complaint to the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life or to the Electoral Commission; or even, why not? the police. A couple of things strike me after reading more details here and here.

1. It seems clear Osborne genuinely believed there was a sniff of a donation: why else take his party's fundraiser to the second meeting? As Labour's Denis MacShane has noted, even discussing doing something against the law might constitute an offence.

2. It is obvious Mandelson attracts a certain kind of warm friendship. Both Nat Rothschild and his mother it seems are close friends:

In the last decade an enduring bond has been forged across the political divide as Rothschild has become one of the closest friends of Peter Mandelson. They regularly go on holiday together and socialise in London where Mandelson is now a fixture on the elite social scene as he entertains the great and good in his white stucco Regency house near Regent's Park bought with a legacy from his late mother, Mary.

Rothschild was very supportive of Mandelson during his years in the cold after his second resignation and when his mother died.

3. The case illustrates the old political axiom that in the House of Commons, one's real enemies are not in front but behind.

Many Tory MPs were enjoying Osborne's discomfort because they have resented the way in which such a young figure, who has risen so rapidly, makes no secret of his disdain for lesser mortals. "George does have a swagger," one frontbencher said.

It seems also that George is not above letting people know he thinks he's rather superior- an accusation frequently levelled, it might be added, against the Prince of Darkness himself- and often texts critical comments to junior ministers on their speeches or makes it known others will have no chance of office once the great day of victory arrives.

We also learn that George's ear has received whispers from senior Tories that his indiscretions regarding private dinner conversations have offended many within the party also- this kind of thing generally 'isn't done' within the political class, where 'Chatham House' rules(not outside these walls) tend to apply. There was more than a dash of Oxford Union politics about Osborne's behaviour. However clever he may be- and the Tories are famously ambivalent about cleverness- he's still more than a little immature.

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