Damian McBride is desperately trying to throw a smokescreen up tonight with a planted frontpage story in the Telegraph which downplays what he has been up to. Andrew Porter, the Telegraph’s lobby correspondent, is Damian McBride’s regular drinking companion and tame mouthpiece, so it is no surprise whatsoever to Guido that the Telegraph is being used by Downing Street for damage limitation.
The Telegraph implies that Guido has sold the story to the Sunday newspapers – that is completely untrue – Downing Street tried that same line against the Home Office whistleblower. They are also trying to make out that the story is just about Damian McBride sending gossipy emails to his pal Derek Draper. Utter lies.
Damian McBride did however in fact write the LabourList article for Draper to use to smear Guido and he also did the same for smears against Iain Dale. Draper merely cut and pasted them on to his “independent” site. That is just a relatively minor aspect of the bigger story, but it is how Guido came to learn more of the full story. The Telegraph doesn’t have a fraction of the facts – laughably they don’t even name McBride in their story - they really should have given him the byline.
Downing Street under Gordon Brown has been particularly vicious in smearing opponents. Other well known Labour insiders besides Damian McBride – including a government minister – are involved in the operation. Guido has hard evidence that Tory MPs have been smeared, and that a particularly vicious concerted smear operation was mounted against George Osborne, smears that Damian McBride – a civil servant – knows and admits in writing are untrue, yet he was still instrumental in spreading. Some well known lobby journalists have knowingly gone along with it. This is a lot bigger than some minor bloggers spat.
Downing Street are deliberately trying to make out that this is just another round in the Draper v Guido battle – that is why the Telegraph have slanted their story in the way they have. It isn’t. It is about a poisonous long term smear operation based in the heart of Downing Street and run by the prime minister’s press and political adviser, Damian McBride. Names will be named and shamed…
+++ Developing +++
UPDATE : The BBC have an anonymous Downing Street source claiming that no-one else in Downing Street besides Damian knew about all this – simply not true and contradicted by the evidence.