Beware the Cover-Up

It's a truism that in political scandals, the damage comes from the cover-up rather than the initial incident.

  • See Watergate. E. Howard Hunt and friends break into a hotel suite. How did that lead to the resignation of a president? It was the cover-up.
  • See l'Affaire du NotW. While the fact that Millie Dowler's voicemail was screwed around with, and that a cast of thousands had their voicemail intercepted is to be regretted, to be condemned, and extremely damaging, it is the first shoddy inquiry that actually has brought the paper down.
Now, an interesting and potentially trivial incident has brought blogger attention to Conservative Home. National treasure, Richard North was alerted by the foolish Henry Smith MP to the fact that Smith had voted in both lobbies (both for and against) on the IMF bailout vote. Smith "carefully" tried to correct North for listing him as voting for the measure.

Dr. North, in turn, pointed out that Conservative Home were listing Smith as a rebel in an article posted Tuesday July 12th. Conservative Home don't appear to have noticed, and funnily enough, any comments correcting the original impression haven't managed to get through moderation in the course of a day. Dr. North points out that Autonomous Mind and Witterings from Witney are also "monitoring the situation.

For both Mr. Smith and Conhome, it is axiomatic that playing with a straight bat would be better. There is far too much pressure on an MP to bow down before the whips. Had Smith done so, the matter would now be essentially over. Attempting to mislead, however, will be noted. I should imagine that UKIP will certainly be running a high-profile candidate against him in the next election.

For Conhome, the matter is even more serious. They could have acted as a lightning rod here for the tamer eu-sceptics, and emerged with an enhanced reputation. Instead, they have provided clear evidence that they are not an open forum, and censor rather dramatic information from their comments.


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