Harriet Harman found herself having to deny that she had any leadership ambitions following a front page splash by the Daily Telegraph on Monday, claiming she was ready to stand. The net result of her protestations of loyalty do at least mean that she has firmly ruled herself out of any leadership bid at all. Now, who could this possibly benefit? Well, it's certainly likely that one G. Brown will be quite happy to have quashed at least one potential nuisance, and how grateful he must be to the only newspaper to bother with a story that seems to have itself been firmly founded on the imagination of its writer.
The journalist who so effectively cooked Harman's goose, and carried out a Brown rescue operation, was none other than the Telegraph's political editor Andrew Porter. Porter has been under scrutiny - as has pretty much the whole Telegraph team - for his closeness to the disgraced former Brown hatchet man Damian McBride. Porter, a political leftie, was one of McBride's closest associates. It was the Telegraph, too, which sought to lance the poison of the email scandal by heading quickly into print with an early expose designed to limit the damage to the No. 10 strategy chief. It does rather seem that, even with McBride having gone, the Telegraph is still around to do Brown's bidding for him. Private Eye carried a detailed piece about "McPoison's" lobby associates, with the former Torygraph in pole position as chief muck spreader. Stephen Glover in the Independent has also written a piece lamenting the Teleggraph's lack of political judgement in getting so close to McBride. All of which is a rather sad decline for the one time paper of choice for the Tory Party's reactionary tendency. With its firmly Brownite political staff, and its politically ignorant editor, who will the last remaining broadsheet be rooting for at the next election?