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.
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