Just before going on air today on the BBC’s Daily Politics, Guido was told that the show had received a faxed complaint about yours truly appearing on the show (clip here). The complaint came from the Labour Party.
Members of Damian McBride’s Finchley and Golders Green constituency Labour Party branch are to vote on whether to throw him out. The local Labour MP for Finchley and Golders Green, Rudi Vis, says:
What he did was scandalous, totally scandalous. Something like this is really important, especially when the Government is not doing very well. He has done the Labour party an enormous disservice. I don’t believe he is the sort of member we should have. I have never met him, never seen him at any meetings, never even heard of him before, so it won’t be any loss to us.”
Mr McBride’s future will be voted on at the next CLP executive meeting, on May 11. The group’s recommendations will then be accepted or rejected by the General Committee on May 27. Local party executive member Robinson said:
“I can’t say absolutely yes or no as it is not my decision to make. But I will say that he has not done the Labour party any favours. Lots of people are saying that what he did was stupid, but it was much more than that – it was wrong.”
That will teach McBride for spilling Guido’s pint.
Hat Tip : Hendon & Finchley Times
Guido has not yet seen the Channel 4 Dispatches about the Westminster Gravy Train produced by the excellent Heather Brooke. Will watch the 8pm repeat tonight. Francis Maude is exposed for abusing the expenses system to buy a second property yards away from the one he already owns. Something that didn’t come out in the broadcast (Guido had it on his to-do list) was confirmation of a persistent rumour that the property was rented out to Tory researchers, who are of course themselves paid out of parliamentary expenses. Double dipping in the trough…
UPDATE : Am told it is on at 2.25 a.m.- will record it instead.
While Guido does have a detailed picture of the discussions held at Labour HQ, the attendees at the two Red Rag meetings held at Unite HQ are less loquacious. Look at the people at that meeting; Andrew Dodghson, Charlie Whelan, Damian McBride, Derek Draper were all copied in on the shocking smear emails as proposed by McBride. These are not people through whom the milk of human kindness runs. Charlie Whelan is not a bleeding heart known for his charity towards Tories, Damian McBride is the poisonous destroyer of Brown’s internal and external enemies. Derek Draper thinks it “absolutely brilliant” to attack the wives and lovers of Tories. Kevin Maguire is not merely a partisan journalist, he is an integral part of Brown’s spin and smear operation. Even after the existence of the smear emails was revealed, Maguire was still peddling innuendo from them about “Cameron’s alleged embarrassing complaint of a highly personal nature”.
Maguire has been touring the broadcast studios claiming that at the Unite meetings they just watched a few YouTube videos and discussed Obama’s online campaign strategy – the email invitation however says it was a meeting to discuss the Red Rag attack site. Do you believe Maguire or the written evidence?
Maguire’s claims are laughably implausible. Here we have a gang of the most vicious Labour propagandists with a visceral tribal hatred of their opponents, yet Maguire would have you believe they were merely singing “Kumbaya” around the Unite boardroom table. The meeting took place some five weeks before the infamous emails were circulated to four of the six attendees at the meeting. We know from Draper’s “absolutely brilliant” reply that they were almost ready to go live with the smear and spin site.
No email has come to light cancelling the project. We only have Derek’s word for it that they were going to abandon the idea for the site. The fact that the site was still online when the existence of the emails came out strongly suggests the project was not cancelled.
The explanations don’t make sense, if they were going to do something legitimate, why keep it secret from all the Labour bloggers at those Draper organised breakfasts? If they really wanted to try out new video ideas, wouldn’t Maguire’s own Mirror blog be the perfect place to do it? The only explanation that makes sense is that they wanted to keep it away from the loose tongued Labour bloggers.
When you have people like Draper, McBride and Whelan plotting in secret it can only mean they were up to no good. Maguire is bullshitting. He says it was innocent, the written evidence suggests otherwise. There is nothing innocent about Whelan, Draper and McBride…
The Labour Party’s general secretary, Ray Collins, denies knowledge of the Red Rag attack site. Yet the News of the World placed him at a planning meeting held on December 1, 2008 at Unite’s HQ. He was there with the now disgraced spin and smear merchants Damian McBride and Derek Draper. On the Unite side were Charlie Whelan and Andrew Dodghson. Kevin Maguire completed the dirty half-dozen. Guido believes that although Collins did not know of the specific intended smears outlined in the January email by McBride to Draper, he did however know of the intention to launch the anonymous attack site. Nor was he the only person at Labour HQ who was aware of the intention to set-up the “plausibly deniable” site.
On Friday Guido spoke with Dan Thain, who was until recently the Labour Party’s eCampaigns Manager based in Labour’s HQ at 39 Victoria Street, he now works in the London office of Blue State Digital (famous for being Obama’s online people). He admitted on the record that:
- He knew in principle about the plan to set-up an anonymous Labour attack blog.
- He denied knowing about specifics such as the smears or the name of the site.
He indicated that Sue Macmillan, New Media Campaigns Taskforce Leader at Labour HQ, was also in the know. She worked closely with Derek Draper. The obvious question for Collins, Thain and Macmillan to answer is:
Why if it was not the intention to use the Red Rag site for below the belt, spin and smears, was it set up with an anonymous and therefore plausibly deniable structure, outside the Labour Party?
The mere fact that they didn’t want it to have any link back to the party was because it was always intended for it to be used to smear opponents in a way that they would be too ashamed to do openly. That was implicit in the setting up of the site. Ray Collins can hardly claim to have no responsibility for the site just because he didn’t know which particular smears were going to be used. He still helped plan and facilitate the setting-up of the smear site.
Numerous “blogger’s breakfasts” were organised by Derek Draper at Labour HQ with invitations sent to dozens of bloggers [invitation list for the December 4, 2008 blogger’s breakfast revealed by Guido here]. Attendees of the blogger’s breakfasts organised by Derek Draper held at Labour HQ confirm to Guido that the idea of setting up an attack blog was openly discussed. In fact at all the meetings the discussions invariably came back to how to take on and counter the success of the ConservativeHome, Iain Dale and Guido blogs. Guido has a detailed picture of discussions held at those breakfasts.
+++ Developing +++
Guido is off for a picnic in the sunshine, when he gets back he will be shining a light into Labour HQ’s links to Red Rag. Will also try and jog the memory of Guido’s drinking buddy, Kevin Maguire.
Will however give co-conspirators something to pass the time. Some months ago on a Wednesday afternoon after PMQs, Guido found himself in the Westminster Arms ordering a pint of Guinness. As you do. He turned around to see Kevin Maguire and Damian McBride in the corner. Maguire spotted Guido – yes those red pants are a bit of a giveaway – Kevin motioned to Damian in Guido’s direction. Guido returned to his stout and checked his email at the bar.
A minute later someone jostled his left arm, spilling Guinness. Guido turned to see a bloated Damian McBride, tenner in hand, looking straight ahead and studiously ignoring him in a definitely-not-apologising manner. So do you punch the Prime Minister’s spin doctor in the face there and then, or given you are a Guinness drinker, take your time over getting revenge? “Good things come to those who wait.”
More revelations on this blog tomorrow…
If this is correct it is stunning:
Labourhome has learned that the E&T Ballot Box with the broken seal was in fact being stored in a cupboard at Labour’s Victoria Street HQ at the time.
Furthermore, the ballot papers inside