The BBC, Lord McAlpine and ‘The New Machiavelli’ Book

DISCLAIMER: This post is NOT a plug for Lord McAlpine’s book, although sales may receive a bounce by all the recent publicity – which isn’t a bad thing, is it? To be completely honest, after reading a few passages from this book, I am almost certain it was really written by that infamous jock Alastair, not Alistair.

21st Century Wire says…

This blogger below has made a very compelling argument regarding the BBC-Lord McAlpine libel scandal, based partly his own Radio 4 interview last week, an interview in which a few possible inconsistencies have been raised by the writer on his website.

More interestingly, however, is McAlpine’s book – a fascinating read espousing some of the dark virtues of political spin and deception in manipulating public opinion – a revelation which could shed some new light on the present context of McApline’s snap settlement at the expense of the BBC TV license paying public.

Does anyone else smell a dirty Tory-driven PR whitewash going on here?

John Ward
The Slog

I can’t claim anything approaching an exclusive on this one. I have been sent this interview with Lord Alistair McAlpine during 2000 in Australia by no fewer than nine Sloggers. It is, shall we say, incredibly revealing. And my guess is that most readers (and few if any currently terrified hacks) have read it.

The interview was to promote Lord Alistair McAlpine’s then new book, The New Machiavelli: The Art of Politics in Business. I am, by the way, repeating Lord Alistair McAlpine’s exact name ad nauseam to ensure that nobody is misled as to whether he did actually write this book, or whether one of the many other McAlpines did so, and then ran away.

Because that simply isn’t true, you see: Lord Alistair McAlpine wrote this book. No other McAlpines were involved in the writing of this book. This book was not produced in a factory making McAlpines. None of Alfred James ‘Jimmie’ McAlpine (1908-1991) who lived at Gerwyn Hall, Marchwiel, Wrexham (the son of Sir Alfred David McAlpine (1881-1944). Lord McAlpine of West Green is the son of Robert, Baron McAlpine of Moffat (1907-1990), the son of William McAlpine (1871-1951), who was the son of Sir Robert McAlpine 1st Bt. (1847-1934) played any role in the writing of the book. Not so much as a footnote.

Lord McAlpine’s Great Grandfather was the same as A.J. ‘Jimmie’ McAlpine’s Grandfather. That makes him a cousin, once removed. But nobody except Lord Alistair McAlpine played any role in the writing of this book, and you can probably rest assured that the McAlpine lawyers will vigorously pursue the entire fortune of anyone who suggests otherwise, allegedly.

Sorry, sorry. Just been on to the legals. I’d like to add that nobody involved in the writing of this book either is or ever has been a paedophile. Excellent. Anyway, let’s first of all examine the similarities between the content of his entirely self-penned book, and Lord Alistair McAlpine’s behaviour over the last ten days. No doubt all of us can recall in graphic detail how Lord Alistair talked of the horror, dicky-heart anxiety, and utter shock of the discovery that his name was being associated with heinous sexual perversion. He had definitely been knocked to the ground and besmirched, and felt defeated, lost, beside himself, and horrified. From the Oz 2000 interview:

‘McAlpine’s advice on dealing with the media? Spread false defeat to gain public sympathy; or false accusation and then arrange for it to be exposed as such – so the accuser will forever be treated with suspicion.’

Hmmm… Words like Radio Four, the Daily Mail, Boris Johnson and Steve Messham spring to mind. Moving swiftly on, we’ve all seen, heard, and been stunned by this poor old innocent codger who’s never been anything other than scrupulously honest and straightforward. However, in 2000 Lord Alistair readily acquiesced in this description of the book:

‘A book on how to manipulate people for the greater good’

When you think ‘Machiavelli’, this is the Alastair who first comes to mind.

Well Lordy Lordy Lordy and Ali my stair. Good grief old boy, that’s a bit strong. Still, the Establishment and its mysterious ways are, I think we should all agree, worth saving. Well yes, they are. But I’m a little disturbed by one example in the book used to make his point. This we’re told is the key to successful public speaking:

‘Fake a speech impediment: a sudden stutter gets the audience’s attention like nothing else.’ (…) ‘Ignore the latest buzz about the kinder, gentler world of new age, team-based management. It’s dog-eat-dog out there, and the sooner you realize it, the better. The New Machiavelli mines Machiavelli’s The Prince for the timeless rules and stratagems that can help today’s business rulers survive and prosper in the jungle of greed and treachery that is commerce.’

Before things get any more embarrassing for Lord Alistair McAlpine, let’s move on to that article his brother Sir William McAlpine wrote in the Mail on Sunday last weekend. In it, Sir William asserts:

‘My brother is one of the most honourable people I know….We were brought up – with youngest brother David – by our father Lord McAlpine of Moffat, never to tell a lie. What was being alleged about Alistair was abhorrent.’



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