It was one of those parties where it was more interesting to see who wasn’t there, than who was. Last night, Damian McBride raised a glass at the Intercontinental in Westminster to his book Power Trip, which its publisher says is now on the third print run. After it dominated the Labour conference, it was no surprise that barely a single Labour MP turned up (save for Tom Watson, who free from the constraints of Shadow Cabinet, made his considerable presence felt).
More interesting though were McBride’s views on press regulation:
‘The journalists in this room do a fantastically important job, including the bloggers, who expose wrongdoing and hold people to account. And it doesn’t matter which paper you work for, they all come down to the basic thing of trying to tell the truth and expose the truth and tell good stories that will sell papers and entertain the readers, and that includes bloggers wanting to get hits on their websites.
‘Any time you get this cavalcade of people saying “lets curb the press”, it disgusts me, because that was always the exact opposite of what I wanted to do when I was in government, and right or wrong I regarded myself as being on the side of the press inside government. Some people might think that is a bad thing, but I never did.’
Given the circumstances of his downfall, McBride is hardly the poster boy for those fighting regulation of the press — but it’s a notably robust defence nonetheless. One that will sadly fall on deaf ears with his old friend Mr Miliband.