The controversy over the appointment of TUC economist Duncan Weldon as Newsnight’s economics correspondent has taken a surreal twist. The former Labour Party adviser appears to have used his blog to deaden the impact of a Sunday paper exposé about his connections with the extreme right. Weldon admits to a ‘brief and misguided flirtation with the ideas of the far right,’ yet denied that he had joined any organisation. However, when he was a student he wrote an anonymous piece about this ‘flirtation’ for a student newspaper, under the headline ‘I was a fascist’.
All water under the bridge, he now says:
‘None of this should be read as a plea for sympathy. This chapter of my teenage life was witless and intensely embarrassing and I compounded the idiocy with a boastful and ill-judged piece of student journalism a few years later. I don’t believe anyone who has known me as an adult would recognise the adolescent prat I have been describing here, but I’m sure many of us know of teenagers who have done worse too. Reflecting on the last week it’s hard to escape the irony that I have been accused of being a dangerous leftie and also a fascist within 48 hours. I hope I’m neither.’
Inevitably, Tories who were already furious with the appointment, smell blood. One tells Mr S:
‘Newsnight were clearly so enamoured with Duncan’s politics that they turned a blind eye to the proper processes. Let’s hope they’ll distance themselves from his biased claims and scaremongering about the government’s economic policy as well as his fascist past.’
Miaow. Saucer of milk to that source.