When Peter Hain came out with his attack on ‘vile’ Tory candidates, my immediate reaction was to think that this was a man heading for a fall. It was obvious that, sooner or later, someone would draw attention to similar problems with one or more Labour candidate. It didn’t take long.
Anyone who has ever been involved in the process of selecting and vetting candidates will know that it is extremely difficult – perhaps impossible - for any party to be certain that one or other of its candidates will not turn out to be an embarrassment in some shape or form. That is particularly true for local elections, where candidates number into the hundreds.
Given that, any politician choosing to attack another party in the way that Hain chose to do is simply leaving itself open to a charge of hypocrisy when one of its own candidates gets found out. What surprises me is this: Hain is no novice; he’s been involved in politics in Wales for decades. He’s seen this happen time and time again in the past – what on earth possessed him to do something so foolish?
In truth, of course, it’s unfair to pick on Hain alone here. (Almost can’t believe that I typed that.) He’s merely the perpetrator of this week’s obvious faux pas. But the ability of politicians to believe that it’s safe to attack other parties in this way because their own party is whiter than white isn’t restricted to Labour.
It’s as though they are afflicted with some sort of selective amnesia when the sound of a good headline gets stuck in their brains.