This also happened whilst I was gone, but mostly seemed to be a lot of frothing in The Telegraph. I’m glad it hasn’t been:
When police raided the London home of Damian Green it led to “the most shocking six hours of my life”, according to his wife. Nor was that the end of it. The police – up to 20 officers in all, from the counterterrorist command – also raided the shadow immigration minister’s Kent home and his constituency office and, perhaps most disturbing of all, were allowed by the House of Commons Speaker to ferret through his Westminster office. David Blunkett, the former home secretary not known for his liberal view on police pursuit of wrongdoers, rightly described the raids as “overkill”. David Cameron said they were “Stalinesque”. Mr Green’s apparent crime was to be the recipient of a series of leaks from a Home Office civil servant that embarrassed the government.
These were not, it should be stressed, official secrets.
Some in Labour circles have sought to compare the two episodes [this and cash for honours], claiming a moral equivalence between Mr Green’s arrest and that of Ruth Turner, a Downing Street aide, and Lord Levy, the former party fundraiser. There is no such equivalence. Cash for honours was about allegations of political corruption at the highest level and debasing the honours system. Mr Green’s “crime” was in helping expose matters that belonged in the public domain. Even if he encouraged an official to leak information, he was merely following a tradition that journalists and opposition politicians have adopted for generations.
The hypocrisy of a government that took the dark arts of spin to new levels apparently knows no bounds. Last Sunday’s newspapers and the airwaves were full of well-informed, deliberate leaks about the contents of Alistair Darling’s pre-budget report. The only surprise when he stood to deliver the report on Monday was that there were no surprises. For new Labour, there are leaks and leaks; those that are politically advantageous and those that are politically embarrassing.
Gordon Brown knows this better than most. Many have commented on how he and his aides used Whitehall leaks to embarrass the Tories in the run-up to the 1997 general election. What is less well known is that the tactic continued in government, particular at the heights of new Labour’s internal battles, though this time the leaks were used to undermine Mr Blair and his allies.