IT WAS only a matter of time before members of the Parliamentary Labour Party decided to weaponise some of the disclosures made in Nadine Dorries’ book, ‘The Plot.
Stories about Rishi Sunak’s advisor, Dougie Smith, have featured a pet rabbit butchered and nailed to a door, death threats against a colleague leading to time in prison, and accounts of bullying and blackmail. None of these allegations have been contested in the courts.
Dougie Smith is listed on the payroll at CCHQ, described as an Advisor to the Leader’s panel and reportedly paid a large salary. Despite this, and despite him prowling around Downing Street, there does not seem to be a job description, and no-one seems to know what he does.
This provides a fertile field for PMQs asking the Prime Minister if the normal vetting procedures were followed during his appointment. A follow-up question will ask if, in the light of the revelations about him, he still has the Prime Minister’s confidence.
This will leave the Prime Minister in something of a dilemma. The obvious move, to terminate Smith’s appointment, might be difficult if he has damaging information that he might then leak out. On the other hand, if he retains Smith on the staff, he faces the guilt by association problem, and will undoubtedly have his judgement questioned in further PMQs. It will support that oft-repeated phrase ‘failure of leadership’ that regularly haunts the Prime Minister.
Nadine Dorries’ book makes it clear that this goes right to top of the Conservative Party, and the concern must be that some of the party’s donors and potential donors will be questioning if this is what they want their donations spent to support.
If smaller conservative donors, the average man in the street that is donating to the Conservative Party in Scunthorpe, Arundel and South Downs, Horsham or in North Tyneside happens to find out that Dougie Smith took down the person that they voted for Liz Truss in favor of Rishi Sunak how would they feel about this revelation?
Once the PMQs start coming, it will be clear that this is not something than can be swept under the carpet and forgotten about.