In the red corner we have New Labour luminary Derek Draper, in the purple prose corner we have The Guardian’s David Hencke. I witnessed the little public spat yesterday and hadn’t considered blogging about it until this morning when I saw that there were so many versions online that it was probably worth adding my two penn’orth. It’s very much a Westminster village story and a good example of an irresponsible media does to damage public trust in the democratic process.
Let’s get the Guido side issue out of the way first. Yes, Guido Fawkes ran the same story, but I don’t hold him as accountable. That’s what he’s there for. He runs scurrilous stories which always raise my political hackles, but he doesn’t pretend to be an ethical journalist â€“ and indeed is quite good at calling the lobby journalists to account. And he’s not such a bad chap when you meet him, not at all like you’d imagine from the deluded folks who frequent his comments. In short, I detest what he does, but I defend his right to do it.
Which brings me to David Hencke. He’s meant to be a responsible journalist for the established mainstream media. Which makes his behaviour all the more disgraceful. The work Derek Draper does on LabourList (and for the Labour Party) he does pro bono as a volunteer because he believes in the the party’s ability to build a better Britain for all. For Hencke to smear his professional life is beyond what is acceptable, even in the cut and thrust of Westminster politics. From what I understand (and I haven’t asked Derek about this) is that in his work as a psychotherapist he specialises in helping children. That’s pretty low behaviour for a so-called responsible journalist from a responsible paper.
UPDATE: Colin Byrne appears to have had similar thoughts.