New Labour Sex Smears a Dissident (Again) 17

Stalin had a word for it: Kompromat. it is now being used against Angus MacNeil, the Scottish Nationalist MP who launched the “Cash for Honours” scandal that may well put some of Blair’s top aides in jail, probably for their destruction of evidence.

This account from the “This is London” website makes the parallel with the smear campaign against me. I would add that, after a four month investigation loaded against me in every possible way, I was found not guilty of all the allegations against me.

For American readers, the age of consent in the UK is 16, so MacNeil is not accused of anything illegal. MacNeil has come clean and said he was “Wrong and stupid” to romp with the girls. That is a question of personal morality. Having seen their photos, I think he is a lucky man with excellent taste.’sleazebuster’%20MP%20who%20romped%20with%20two%20teen%20girls%20the%20victim%20of%20a%20’smear%20campaign’/

The MP who triggered the police investigation into cash-for-peerages is the suspected victim of a sinister smear campaign, it has been claimed.

Scottish Nationalist MP Angus Macneil was forced to apologise to his wife and family after admitting to a ‘drunken romp’ with two teenage girls.

But in a dramatic twist, SNP party leader Alex Salmond suggested the MP had been spied on by MI5 as a result of the honours inquiry.

Mr Salmond said Mr Macneil had made the ‘most extraordinary powerful enemies’ after the inquiry probed the highest levels of Downing Street.

His complaint to the Metropolitan Police has triggered a 13-month probe which has seen Tony Blair interviewed twice by detectives and fundraiser Lord Levy and top No10 aide Ruth Turner arrested.

Two police forces confirmed they had investigated complaints of ‘intense intrusion’ against Mr Macneil but said no crimes had been detected.

The Metropolitan Police revealed it had investigated an allegation of a break-in to Mr Macneil’s Commons office after claims it had been ‘swept’ in a covert spying operation, but found no evidence.

Yet the alleged incidents bear striking similiarities to the treatment of former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who claimed he was the victim of dirty tricks by MI6 after speaking out against US foreign policy in the former Soviet state.

After he accused Britain of being complicit in the torture of terrorist suspects by American forces, stories emerged of Mr Murray’s affair with a 22-year-old dancer, which the diplomat admitted, and accusations that he offered visas in return for sex, which he denied.

A Sunday newspaper revealed that Mr Macneil ‘kissed and fondled’ two teenage girls in a hotel room in July 2005.

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17 thoughts on “New Labour Sex Smears a Dissident (Again)

  • Daniel

    It is amazing how those who disrupt the New Labour project tend to be outed for alleged sexual misdemeanours. Tommy Sheridan is another. But nothing Murray, Sheridan or MacNeil have done or are alleged to have done sexually is actually illegal – it's a matter between consenting adults. In contrast, all three are accusing the government of illegal practices. The smears against all three men are nothing compared to New Labour's betrayal, lies and deceit. I really hope SNP wins the elections and puts the boot into the New Labour project.

  • kazbel

    It seems evident from the original story at… that the two girls did not go to the newspaper with the story and are distressed that it has been published. One says: ""I knew who he was and I know why this is now news. We had just left school together, I was 18 at the time and J…. was 17. We were set to go to college.

    "We had too much to drink and it was a crazy kind of time. Most young people do it but we made a mistake by going to his room.

    "I know about politics and I know what he has done since with the cash for honours row. We were too drunk and we made a mistake."

    The other said:

    "I understand he's married. I'm not very interested in politics, I don't know anything about cash for honours. This is a really difficult situation.

    "I can't believe this. I have my life ahead of me. I knew who he was but I know nothing about what he has done as an MP.

    "We were just too drunk and had some fun. We were young at the time.

    "He didn't say he was married. I did some stuff with him I don't want anyone to know about."

    These are not the statements of girls who have just sold their stories to the press but of girls who fear their own lives and reputations will suffer.

    Whoever gave this story to the paper had no concern with the well-being of these teenage girls.

  • Daniel

    Kazbel: I agree. It was not prostitution, it was not a honey trap and it wasn't even sleazy: a guy got drunk in a party and ended up in bed with two attractive young women (lucky guy). There are probably thousands of men across Scotland who have done the same kind of thing, but whose wives don't know about it. But they haven't stood up to corruption in high places. A drunken fumble with two young women is a lot less sleazy than the charges levelled at the government (although the investigation appears to have been put on ice ahead of the elections).

    I'd love to know how this information got leaked to a Labour-supporting newspaper. I don't know what the reaction is in Scotland, but given the Sheridan affair and now the PR disaster surrounding the naval personnel, I hope that many voters will be reflecting on how the security services and the civil service are being used for the sake of political propaganda.

  • NightWatch

    Stunning girls and nice looking guy. Seems like nature just took its proper course. Won't be at all surprised to find a great deal of the scandal is driven by older women who will always feel insulted he wasn't dating them.

    In my informal surveys over the years, it seems to be only the older women who have the rabid hate for Bill Clinton. Younger women will always be attracted to older men who have trappings of power and prestige. That is nature and foolish to deny it exists. I'm sure Craig will verify that women of all ages would literally throw themselves at him due to his position. I was never so successful as when it became known I was a law student. Women fought to hitch their star to mine. Same thing is my short athletic career.

    Unfortunately, there is a new USA law, that we may not accept the kindnesses of women under the USA age of consent, even if we are in a country with a lower age of consent.

    My country, gotta love our "freedom".

  • ChoamNomsky

    This tactic really just amounts to the classic Ad-Hominem attack. It is a well known logical fallacy. See here.

    Whenever I see people being attacked in this way it makes me pay more attention to what they say, since an Ad Hominem attack usually indicates that their argument was too strong to defeat with a counter-argument.

    You have to be quite intellectually disciplined when it comes to judging arguments. It's all too easy to be swayed by personal attacks. For example, it is fairly clear the media want you to hate George Galloway. They keep focusing on some personally embarrassing things he has done (e.g. big brother). This should immediately tell you that he may be making some very good arguments. Indeed if you listen to him, a lot of what he says is well reasoned.

  • writeon

    I've just shown the comments on this thread to my 22 year old daughter and she thinks they exhibit "sexist tendencies"! I don't really agree, but then, I'm not a woman. Maybe women are too sensitive about these things?

    What does trouble me though is the lack of wisdom and bad judgement Macneil has shown. Given the current political climate in Britain and the interests of the tabloid press, it seems rather foolish to engage in activities which are such a gift to one's enemies. Personally I don't care how many young girls he wants to have sex with in any way he wants to, but I do question his recklessness, lack of discipline and stupidity.

  • Daniel

    Writeon: Firstly, these are not "young girls", they are young and probably intelligent women. The portrayal of these women as "teenage girls" – I assume your daughter would find that patronising – is intended to make the whole fiasco more sleazy than it really is. Secondly, I think your daughter is wrong. If Patricia Hewitt was found romping with two attractive young men, I'd also commend her for her taste in men – her gender is irrelevant. Thirdly, MacNeil had this fling or whatever it was in July 2005, shortly after being elected and before he made a fuss about cash-for-honours. No doubt experience has given him more wisdom and he would have been far more careful if he had been given the post-ceilidh opportunity after the cash-for-honours scandal broke out and after the Sheridan affair.

  • writeon


    I'm not sure how serious you are, or why you want to expend energy defending and finding excuses for this guy, Macneil. You seem a trifle argumentative in relation to comments I made that are so clearly true, that I have difficulty understanding your apparent anger. A nationalist and opposition politician who indulges in this kind of "fling" with two young women must be nuts; knowing that if the episode got out, the tabloid press would crucify him, and by extension his party. Surely this is beyond question given the nature of the British press? Whether the press is right to do this is not really relevant. The fact of what they would do with such a story is surely what matters? In Macneil's case, I wonder if the "fling" was really worth the risk involved, or perhaps that was half the fun?

    "Young" and "girls" and "women" aren't particularly precise terms are they? Often it depends on one's perspective and age. My grandmother called everyone "girls" and many of them were forty! I'm not sure why you apparently take such exception to me implying that Macneil has acted foolishly in this matter. Surely you're not of the opinion he's actions were sensible, praiseworthy and to be emulated by other politicians?

    I'm not sure why you take such exception to me questioning Macneil's judgement. I haven't criticised his morals have I? I don't care about the apparent contept he's shown for his wife, that's between the two of them.

    Why do you assume these young women are probably intelligent? Star-struck, impressionable, drunk, silly, perhaps; I'm not sure going to a guy's room that they hardly know for sex is a sign of intelligence.

    Do you notice anything particular about the words "seventeen" and "eighteen"? "Teen" perhaps? So when the newspapers call them "teenagers" they are on pretty solid ground here aren't they?

    Also in a sexist society gender is important and relevant. Powerful and successful men are often regarded as "attractive" by younger women. But one is not describing a neutral relationship here. Generally men are in the dominant position in these kinds of relationships. To say that it isn't or shouldn't be like this is an interesting statement. It may well be your opinion, but it isn't an accurate description of society today.

    You seem to confuse your own personal attitude to Macneil's behaviour with society's as a whole. Society and the media have a very hypocritical attitude to sex and relationships. Gender relationships are not in balance or equal. Women do not have the same sexual licence as men, and their behaviour is constricted and scrutinized in a completely different way than similar activities in men. I'm not expressing an opinion here, only stating an obvious fact about the society in which we live.

  • Daniel

    "Surely you're not of the opinion he's actions were sensible, praiseworthy and to be emulated by other politicians?"

    I am of the opinion that it is his own business. Morality is subjective. So long as he did nothing illegal, then it doesn't matter. If Labour has done nothing illegal, then it still matters as it impacts on issues of accountability and transparency, whereas MacNeil's private affairs do not.

    As for society in general, I hope that any qualms people have about MacNeil's drunken fumble are outweighed by the concern they have about the allegations concerning appointments to parliaments made on the basis of political favours and donations. If society is more appalled by MacNeil than Blair, then they deserve the politicians they get.

  • Strategist

    You're all missing the point, gentlemen. Intoxicated by the pics of the two pretty girls (I must say egged on in this by Craig…), you seem to have failed to spot the actual scandal – that the British secret police have been following, bugging the calls and burgling the office of an elected MP in order to try & dig up anything they could to discredit a guy who has found Blair's achilles heel. An elected MP for chrissakes! Are we so far gone that we can find this not comment-worthy, not scandalous?

    Norman Baker MP had his computer files stolen when he started to investigate the David Kelly case. There, conceivably, issues of national security could be claimed. In the case of McNeil there is no remotely plausible claim of a national security threat, simply of a threat to the Blair clique.

    Reading the Evening Standard article further, I must say Alex Salmond seems to be handling it well – biting back, probably with genuine anger. The Stanny is hardly a reliable source on matters of Scottish elections, so I hope someone can enlighten us as to how the Scottish media are viewing it. I do hope the Scottish electorate can be assisted by the SNP to see through this one and punish New Labour at the polls (pursuing legal action against MI5 should come later). It is not a faith I would have in the English electorate. Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled – for God's sake don't let those of us south of the border who despise Blair and the abuse of what should be our security services, not our thought police, down!!

  • writeon


    I believe you're confusing your own attitude to Macneil's actions with that of society in general. Whilst you and I may agree that what he does privately, in theory, is his own business; in practice, in the real world, a politicians private life now longer really exists. This is surely true of politicians who are "dissidents" or in "opposition".

    So much of modern politics is a kind of "ethical beauty contest". Who do I trust most among the candidates. Blair, for example, has built an entire career and taken the country to war, based on his supposed "honesty" and the "trust me, I'm a decent sort of guy" credo. One can be annoyed that politics has sunk down to this purile level, but one cannot ignore that this is the level we've reached. Also, one would be foolish and tactically inept to act, as a practising politician, as if these "rules" did not exist or apply to one.

    Of course what Macneil does "matters" in the real world. Morality is not subjective. We are not isolated inividuals living apart from society, if we were morality would be irrelevant and meaningless. We live in society, politicians very specifically have an enormous interface with society, morality is a social construct based on "shared values" to a greater or lesser degree. Part of the point of "morality" is that one is either inside or outside its bounderies, bounderies which are sometimes very fluid and sometimes very rigid.

    I don't think we actually disagree about the issue at hand. I personally would vote for the Scotish Nationalists and MacNeil. I would vote in protest for any, not New Labour candidate, that had a chance of winning. However, MacNeil's actions would make me wonder about his judgement.

  • writeon

    Dear Strategist,

    I actually feel slightly like a "dissident" on this subject. I agree that the real scandal is the one "behind" this silly affair with the two young women. But so much of what happens in our society is like this. There appears almost to be two worlds. One is the surface world of glitter, glitz and spin; an illusionary world, a media world. Then there's another world below, or behind, or beside, that is very different; darker, uglier and far more dagerous.

    Opposition politicians need to be careful and "stratigically" sophisticated in everything they do, all the time. They are never "off duty". The conservative press, rival political parties and the security services, both domestic and foreign, monitor their behaviour and any "transgressions" can be, and are used against them. This is all the more reason why one needs to be careful and think before one acts.

    Opposition or dissident MP's need to be extra careful that they don't needlessly hand their enemies ammunition which can be used to discredit them or their policies. Given the political climate in Britain and the history of the security services involvement in smearing radical politicians, it's amazing that any sensible person would act so recklessly as MacNeil did. Let's hope he's learnt his lesson. If you play with fire, you run the risk of getting burnt!

    After all, it's hard enough for an opposition politician to gain traction and score points against the government, given the degenerate nature of British political culture, and the attitude of the media, without a politician handing their own head, on silver platter, to the gutter-press!

    I can sympathize with the feeling that one needs to "break out" of the prison of being a modern politician, smoke weed, get blind drunk, get naked and let ones' lust rip through one's body and feel fucking alive for a change, instead of talking head, buckled and bound in a business suit. It's understandable to want to have sex with two attractive and willing young women, and alcohol is a great leveller. However, one cannot deny that such behaviour, in the kind of society we live in, has its consequences.

  • Daniel

    writeon: it would be odd, would it not, if politicians were judged by their private lives and not actions that directly affect their office? I actually think the number of people who have turned their back on MacNeil and the SNP over his behaviour is probably far fewer than the number who have been won over to the SNP by MacNeil's revelations on cash-for-honours. If New Labour had hoped to use this drunken fumble to discredit the SNP and the police investigation that began on the basis of MacNeil's evidence, then I think they are out of touch with public opinion. If this is the best New Labour spindoctors can do to answer their critics, then it won't be too long before they are out of a job.

    It is very important that politicians are not struck dumb because they fear that an event in their private life years ago will be used against them if they scrutinise the government too closely. Such disclosures on the private affairs of politicians, which have nothing to do with their public office or their political stance, undermine democracy itself. The attack on MacNeil is a subversion of the democratic process by the government, the media and the security services.

    However, there are times when a politician's private life should be exposed. The Tory "back to basics" campaign, which sought to lecture us on our private lives, and the anti-gay laws enacted by the Tories stank of hypocrisy when these Tory politicians were revealed to be adulterors and closet homosexuals. This is an appropriate time to expose politicians' private lives. MacNeil is not guilty of any hypocrisy and his escapades are irrelevant. It's a completely different matter. It is an absolute scandal that he is the subject of this campaign of vilification by New Labour.

  • NightWatch

    Great discussion, guys.

    "writeon" certainly seems to have a handle on how all this titilatting, jr. high school stuff is used in place of real substance to stir up the baser instincts of the masses to the advantage of those in charge. And it will continue to work as long as one caters to it. Yes, it actually exists, but only those not still crawling along on all fours know it is a disingenuous exercise in distraction.

    The old saying: "its not how bad you screw up, its how well you recover", would seem to offer an escape.

    If those caught in such a snare as the "womanizer" in question is, would simply and strongly "recover", then "silly side scandals" like this would lose their power and the power would be redirected/applied to the real issue in greater force.

    Unfortunately, most seem to want to hang their head and slink away. What a waste! The people hunger for a strong yet imperfect leader who fights back directly, because they instinctively know and trust someone more like themselves.

    To paraphrase writeon, "to not confront manipulative campains adequately, has greater consequences than whatever the mistep was".

    So I disagree that to accept the "reality" that writeon says one must cater to, is any solution at all. It just keeps one (and society)imprisoned. It emasculates. What a cowardly hell. What a poor gene to pass on! I see at each challenge like this there is also a window of opportunity if one is made of the right stuff. Unfortunately, few seem to be.

    But then, most of us seem not to be able to think until a pundit loads our mind and our lip.

  • writeon

    Dear All,

    I really don't think we disagree fundamentally on the principle issues in this "affair". I'm just really concerned that it is a distraction from more important subjects, which I suppose is the whole point of the exercise in "outing" Macneil.

    On a theoretical level all of you are correct. On a practical level, in the "real world" we live in, I'm not so sure. I think I am perhaps too "pragmatic" and think in terms of "tactics" and "strategy" to often. I'm not sure I have a "principled" attitude to this stuff, like so many of you seem to have. There, I've said it. I've opened myself up to myriad attacks by lowering my guard.

    If I'd been with Macneil in this situation as a kind of "friend" or "minder", I would never have allowed him to go upstairs with those two "young women". It was not a sensible thing to do for a politician in his position.

    Daniel. You are right. It is odd that politicians are judged by their private lives as much as their policies that directly affect the lives of the electorate. Unfortunately that is how the system works. Obviously one can fight the system and not accept the "values" of the gutter-press. However, how much energy does one have, how many battles can one fight at once? How much political energy does one expend before one burns out? Shouldn't one perhaps choose to keep one's powder dry, for really important battles? Therefore, I would keep my man on the straight and narrow in regards to anything that could distract him, or damage him, especially something as potentially dangerous as a "sex scandal".

    Perhaps I'm looking at this too "tactically" and not as a matter of principle? Perhaps I look at this too much like "warfare". That might be correct. I think politics is a kind of warfare and I want to fight like a highly disciplined, dedicated, deadly and effective guerilla army, that doesn't allow itself to be drawn-out and crushed on a field chosen by a more powerful enemy.

    Please don't take this in the wrong way, guys; because we are, I think on the same side, we just differ about strategy and tactics. Haven't the Scotts a history of not using the right tactics against a superior, English enemy? I think I would have been tearing my wig out if I'd been part of the "45 rebellion" at Culloden, I think I would have advised caution and retreat. This may have appeared somewhat "cowardly" at the time. I don't do "glory" in my campaigns, I do winning. I would hope that the genes of my brave, highlanders would survive the battle for another day, rather than wasting them, and seeing their genes spread over the ground by grapeshot.

    Personally I don't really believe we live in a fully functioning democracy anymore. I think we, under Blair, have entered a different era, a kind of "soft dictatorship". He has, in my opinion, smashed British politics almost beyond repair. Britain is not an "independent" country, but rather a client or vassal state, part of the American Empire. It has a relationship to the United States, not unlike the relationship Scotland had/has to England. Perhaps this is enough on this subject, fascinating though it is?

  • Craig

    I've been away for 24 hours after the flat was evacuated due to a gas explosion in the street. But you seem to be having a good discussion anyway.

    I tend to the view that acts between consenting adults are nobody's business, and that the UK law has got it about right in this respect with the age of consent at sixteen.

    I agree that some women are attracted to authority; as are some men. Equally I know women attracted to the vulnerable. Who knows what makes people tick? I really don't care. You also have to consider that people are likely to have interesting personal qualities that they used to gain their authority; Clinton being a good example.

    But I don't anyway feel that being attracted to someone because they are an authority figure is inherently less moral than being attracted to them because they have a fabulous body. As long as they are all adult, I really don't care what their motives are, provided there is no coercion.

    I agree the story is a distraction, and a deliberate one. I suspect the tactic will backfire though on New Labour, especially as he has confirmed the incident.

  • kazbel

    I'm feeling mildly miffed by one of NightWatch's comments. Obviously he (I take it this is a he) (a) assumes all commentators on this blog are male, and (b) has some really peculiar ideas about older women (perhaps he finds them scary???). So I'd better admit it: I'm an older woman, with a daughter who's the same age as one of the girls when this happened, and, as I'm currently divorcing my husband for adultery, I do realise that such actions can cause considerable pain. Nonetheless, a one-off drunken fumble in post-exam, post-election eupohoria may be foolish but it hardly deserves this level of hand-wringing. Whoever (journalists, editors, government, MI5) decided this story should be front-page news, causing additional distress and embarrassment to three families should feel ashamed at such cruelty.

    The important misdeeds are those alleged against the government. Selling peerages is not just selling a robe and a fancy title; it's selling VOTES IN PARLIAMENT. Angus MacNeil rightly reported his suspicions to the police. The possible corruption of democratic process is the important story. And it's now been coupled with another important story. This incident (coupled with others in the past) raises the suspicion that the U.K. government uses surveillance of dissidents to achieve its ends. If they have been instrumental in publishing this story, there's an implied threat against all other dissidents. I call that blackmail. It's a serious crime. Perhaps someone with a perfectly pure life should report that suspicion to the police. (A government prepared to blackmail its MPs would be a government opposed to democracy. It raises the questions: how does the government stay in power? why do MPs vote as they do?)

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