Sticking the boot in.
My argument is with the SNP, whose malicious political stunt turned into a slow-burn story which has, I think, damaged public trust in all political parties and in the political process itself. There is a place for political rough and tumble - but that is surely the debating chamber of the House of Commons. To drag decent coppers into what was a clearly political complaint is a step too far. Surely Tony Wright is correct that the genuine policy and political questions raised in this case could - and should - have been dealt with by parliament.
Well, you see Mr McTernan, there was this small matter of there being enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that there had been a breach of the 1925 act on selling honours for the police to launch a full investigation. It's just ever so slightly rich to complain about the person who's grassed you up when your bosses were, by their own admission, using a loophole in the Electoral Commission's rules on donations to keep the loans secret.
McTernan's argument is a misnomer. The spin has already been decided upon: it shows that the public, poor misinformed sheep that they were wrong to lose faith in their glorious, incorruptible representatives, and it's all the SNP/the media/the police/Henry Kissinger's fault. It doesn't matter that all three parties have more than enough reason to be ashamed of their respective funding mechanisms, with both Labour and the Tories relying on the secret loans, with the Lib Dems taking money from a man who turned out to be a fraudster and was subsequently jailed for perjury. After all, their heart was in the right place: how could Tony Blair possibly let the Tories be bankrolled to the gills by their own multi-millionaire supporters, and possibly win the election as a result? He did what he thought was right, and if that meant taking secret loans from a bunch of unsavoury characters and hiding their millions of pounds out of sight from the spending watchdog, then nominating some of them for the House of Lords, something completely unconnected with their generous help, who are we to lose faith in our politicians' ability to conduct themselves in a proper, open manner? Quite frankly, we ought to be glad that we've still got them.
Did anyone though, except for Guido, really expect that anyone other than Levy was likely to be charged? It would have broken the cycle of this Labour government getting away with it time and again. Not a single person has managed to hold a single member of the government to account over Iraq, where the evidence was far more abundant than it was over cash for coronets, documenting Blair, Campbell et al lying and misinforming on an unprecedented scale, and on a matter far, far more serious than the enobbling of a bunch of idiots desperate to join another bunch of strokers in a second chamber about as relevant to modern life as whether Caligula really did make his horse a consul. How could the CPS break Blair's lifelong habit of shaking the blame, especially when the bastard's finally left office?
It's true that the whole thing stinks to high heaven, and that as Paul Linford points out, the public are likely to make up their own minds, just as they did in the aftermath of Hutton's deluge of whitewash. As much as certain sections of the media are now going to get it in the neck when for once they were doing the decent thing of going after a story of genuine public interest, we ought to be at least glad that it almost certainly brought Blair's ignominious reign to an earlier end than he would otherwise have wanted and pushed for. The real worry now will be there's likely to be less impetus than there already was for further Lords reform. Jack Straw announced yesterday that there won't be any movement until after the next election, by which time everyone might well have got cold feet again. The other positive is that Blair's exit has helped to clear the air: Brown's start, while by no means perfect, has still been refreshing compared to the last few years of purgatory.
Most interesting now will be how the other Blairite boot-lickers and sycophants will respond. Back in February, both the Scum and Martin Kettle ran similar articles demanding that Yates either put up or shut up. Now that his investigation has come to naught on the prosecution front, the smear jobs and defense of their saviour is likely to be ferocious. Blair might have gone, but his ghost is likely to haunt us for a while yet.