As seen in vol 1 last week, the era that honed the skills of Derek Draper et al was a heady one for those of us who followed the Red Flag. As supporters of the oppressed masses, we occupied the moral high ground whatever the political methods we employed.
We've all passed a lot of water since then, and I no longer remember whether there was a Derek or a Charlie - or even an Alastair - among the high-ranking NOLS officials and Party members who imparted to us the secrets of political manipulation and orchestrating smear campaigns, visiting the faithful to spread their gospel of Labour supremacy at all costs.
There is something horribly familiar in the antics of Draper and McBride; the same techniques once used to discredit student politicians have evolved into a monster, incorporating Fleet Street and the blogosphere to cause damage on a scale we could never have imagined a quarter of a century ago.
Defamation on this scale is nothing new - it was common practice in Cicero's Rome to accuse a political opponent of murder or child-molesting - but in today's mass-media culture every allegation made creates infinite repercussions beyond the political arena and the consequences are incalculable.
In the mid 80s, they justified their methods by claiming it was essential to oust Thatcher by any means before she did any further damage; these were the dirty tricks of an opposition party frustrated by a lack of political authority. When the party in power resorts to such smear tactics, one has to ask why.
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