back to article Labour flames whistleblowers in email smear brouhaha

As repercussions from the weekend's email-smear blogosphere meltdown continue to be felt at the highest levels in government, senior Labour figures are scrabbling to blame those responsible for the leaks of having obtained their story by unethical means - including hacking. Those at the centre of the row are being very clear …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Downing Street email system

    I thought Downing Street had a 'hacker proof' email system installed.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Labours problem

    Labours problem stems that it tries to control everything, the statist authoritarian mindset permeates everything they do. Even the independent sites try to stay 'on message' using the same tired attacks that fail via traditional channels.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whilst their behaviour was reprehensible...

    ...I too would like to know how these emails were leaked.

    I wouldn't be happy if my personal emails were leaked to anybody, regardless of how unpleasant I'd been in them. I'd be even more angry if they were leaked to someone who had an axe to grind and intended to use them to get me sacked, even though I'd deleted them months ago.

    Just because you don't like the content, it doesn't give you the right to read somebody else's private email, or leak it to the world and his dog.

    Still, maybe this will make the government re-examine their authoritarian desire for intercepting web traffic? Fat chance.

  4. David Hicks

    The labour creed - never admit fault

    Of course we wrote this stuff, but it was a joke, right? We were just going to chuck it out, really.

    Of course it was wrong to do that, clearly it's the code of conduct rules that need changing! Nothing to do with us!

    Of course it was undertaken by my close friend, confidant and advisor without my knowledge! Entirely his fault and nothing to do with me!

    Never, not even once is there a hint of real apology. Every time it's an exercise in passing the buck, expressing regret that they got caught and explaining to us poor proles how we've got it wrong and it wasn't really their fault.

    How long do we have to wait for the next election cycle?

  5. Charley

    Just Two Points

    that you missed.

    1. Draper, a self-confessed psychotherapist thought it would be "absolutely brilliant" to smear the wife of an MP for appearing "emotionally fragile".

    2. If "it is right that Mr McBride and Mr Draper took the decision not to publish this material" and that these were "things Mr McBride thought should go in the bin", it is probable that there was an email stating this exchanged between the two. Funny how this hasn't yet come to light.

    Apart from that, a good summary of the weekends hi jinks. Especially your quote "After all, if the government has nothing to hide..."


  6. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    It's called astroturfing.

    SPADs and their tactics are another import from the Septics. Astroturfing was a key tool in Obama's "hope'n'change" campaign, as evidenced by his appointment of David Axelrod as Senior Adviser. Axelrod was probably behind the notorious Ethan Winner smear of Sarah Palin last year, as noted here:

    Nice to see Nu(t)Labour are just as unoriginal as the old Labour - still can't do anything without copying it from someone else.

  7. breakfast Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "Hacking into government emails"

    I'm loving this whole story, it's hilarious.

    Presumably the ministers worried about their email getting "hacked into" are unaware that unless they are classified, copies of emails sent in Westminster can be requested through the Freedom Of Information Act.

    I bet they're wishing their email system wasn't "incompatible with PGP" around now...

  8. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Ha bloody ha!

    "..... it is right that Mr McBride and Mr Draper took the decision not to publish this material...."

    Funny that. As I heard it, that was the scrofulous McBride dreaming up a load of salacious bollox, sending it to Draper for his pseudo-blog and Draper realising that publishing a load of libellous crap with no factual basis whatsoever in a blatant breach of parliamentary rules was quite likely to drop 'em both in the poo.

    Kudos to Guido for dropping 'em both in the aforementioned poo anyway.

    A new milestone for the Brown administration. Making Alistair Campbell look honest and competant really takes some doing.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: "Whilst their behaviour was reprehensible"

    Hmmmm- it was done on a Downing street computer, from a .gov email addy, therefore it's not personal. It's a matter of public record.

    Whilst I don't unreservedly like Staines as a person (he does come across as laden with a monster ego, and I'm always wary of people who criticise without promoting an alternative to the thing they are mocking), Fawkes has them bang to rights.

    There's no defense in the "Well, we didn;t subsequently do this stuff we planned". Politics is often about perception, and the perception we now have of Draper, Mc Bride and the other actors that may or may not be involved in this lark is now not good.

    Of course, with Brown running the show, I'm certain that there'll be no further resignations or an apology, because he's insane.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Best entertainment all weekend - more news from the funny farm!

  11. kaiserb_uk


    Originally, in the immediate aftermath of Guido and Draper's confrontation on the Daily Politics show, Guido and then Iain Dale lodged Freedom of Information requests.

    Whether or not these were the source of the emails I've not seen confirmed.

    @AC - "I'd be even more angry if they were leaked to someone who had an axe to grind and intended to use them to get me sacked, even though I'd deleted them months ago"

    Sending the emails was a breach of the civil service code, under which McPoison was employed. In any corporate environment misuse of business systems carries severe penalties, so why shouldn't it here?

  12. Richard

    If you ask me

    The blogosphere and the current generation of politicos are well matched. Reactionary, deliberately misdirecting, unable to find the right end of a stick even when clearly labelled.

    Face it, Labour's whining because they got caught. The Tories are whining because they were the targets and because they didn't think of it first. OK, so it's news that the smear campaign existed at all, but from the media reaction of the last few days, you'd think they'd hadn't been thought of before. Wait a tick, that's the whole point of Web 2.0 - the same old crap with a star saying "Beta".

  13. Hollerith

    keep it for over a pint, chaps

    Any company has policies of 'don't putin an email what you wouldn't want read out in court'-style rules. I certainlt think twice before putting down something that could rebound on me or the company. If I want to slag someone off, I use the phone or talk face to face. Do these SPADS thinks they are in a cone of silence or something?

    'If you've nothing to hie, you've nothing to fear', spaddies.

    But of course no apology: had they been the sort of person who could apologies, they wouldn't be the sort of person who would have conceived their smear campaign.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "But I didn't lie on purpose"

    The quote, from a discredited psychotherapist, on live television.

    So why should anyone, ever, believe what he says?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Hello hello hello, what do we have here then?

    Draper's blog is on a shared server with a couple of other murky Labour sites:

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Time for a Picnic?

    Anyone fancy a picnic in, say, Parliament Square? A fancy dress picnic. The theme? Oh, I dunno. Since it's Parliament Square, how about something with a political flavour? Like a demonstration? Or protest? Hey, we could make it a popular revolution themed fancy dress picnic! Bring your own placards. And cake!

    Would the May Day bank holiday weekend be a suitable time for such a fancy dress picnic?

    Open invitation to anyone who wants to come along, of course. But you'll have to bring your own picnic baskets, blankets, and sundry picnicking items.

    Excuse me, I must suddenly go. Someone's knocking down my door...

  17. Jonathan

    There's nothing a government hates more

    ...than having its dirty laundry aired. Hence Labour's response - its not proper to reveal our dirty and embarrassing secrets! Its just not done! Its fine for us to smear the Tories, but heaven forbid anyone publishes anything that is both true and harmful to us. One law for you, one law for me.

  18. Joshua

    Small correction

    The site they were planning was not labourlist - which has been running for a while already and by all accounts follows the Labour Party line so closely it's dead boring - but rather another site called redrag, which is registered to an Ollie Cromwell.

    Apparently RedRag was going to be the mouthpiece for the lies and rumour that Draper and McBride dreamt up.

    Thanks Guido, you made my Easter weekend quite enjoyable watching this develop, and quite a masterclass in timing and strategy. I expect the business schools will pick this up and we'll see it in case studies in future...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 11:54

    "Hmmmm- it was done on a Downing street computer, from a .gov email addy, therefore it's not personal. It's a matter of public record."

    So, what you're saying is that because it's on a government computer, it's okay for a member of staff to leak it?

    If the leaker thought that it was inappropriate, they should have notified a senior civil servant, not Guido Fawkes. Clearly, what they actually thought was "what's the maximum damage I can do to a political party I don't like?"

    It's either okay to misuse your employer's IT systems or it isn't. You can't have it both ways. If it isn't okay, then the leaker should also be sacked along with McBride. You can't go leaking information from Downing Street and expect to get away with it.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Charley - Draper isn't a psychotherapist

    A psycho perhaps but it would appear he made up the "psychotherapist" crap - no real surprise there. He seems to have been expelled from the establishment he claims to have got his qualifications from. The Peter Principle applies quite widely within NuLab I fear.

    A few more months and we'll all see the total destruction of NuLab - Tories will annihilate them in SE England, BNP will hit the Labour vote in NE/NW England, SNP/LibDems will take pretty much all of Scotland except Glasgow and Plaid will take a few of the traditional seats in Wales.

    Me? I intend voting for WHOEVER will be disruptive enough to bring an end to Tory/Labour fuckwits taking it in turns to beggar the country and enrich themselves.

  21. System 10 from Navarone

    Anyone remember Jo Moore?

    Where are these people recruited? C*nts R Us?

    The only thing as depressing as the playground smear politics of Labour is the slimy self righteous indignation of the Conservatives as they try to capitalise on it.

    Maybe before a politician does anything at all, they should ask themselves "What would Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln (or anyone else truly worthy of respect) think of me for doing this?"

    If the answer is "They'd think you're a wanker", then don't proceed. Simple.

  22. Charley
    Thumb Up

    @ John Naismith

    He made it up? About the degree he got at Berkeley? (or in Berkeley. or somewhere you could see Berkeley from?)

    Oh well, I'm sure he didn't lie on purpose.

    As to Zanu-lab and the Tories? I quite agree. A plague on both their houses.

  23. John Smith Gold badge

    @John Naismith

    Go tactical. If your in a Labour seat find out who polled #2 last time and back them. See if you can get a few friends on the day. If its a marginal with <1000 votes lead you and your chums will be a significant part of greasing the skids for their departure.

    Not that I am actively seeking regime change you understand, just pointing out the most effective use of your vote.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone willing to bet

    That a FoI request for the original emails will be met by a statement that the system isn't backed up?

    And if anyone is still in a gambling mood. Do you think a lot of stuff is going into Number 10's computers' trashcans right now?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hacking my arse

    anyone even remotely familiar with our present government knows that it has more than adequate reserves of incompetence and burning resentment to cover just about any situation that reveals stupidity, childishness or mendacity without having to invoke any mysterious third parties onto which the blame can be safely passed without fear of repercussion

  26. Anonymous Coward

    It's a bit rich Dolly Draper complaining that their Emails have a right to privacy...

    when Nu Liebour and their Intercept Monitoring Programme bill hooks are founded on the oft quoted premise .

    If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear!

    So if we are ordered by law to reveal all our online presence, Emails etc then it must likewise be fine for Nu Liebour. So stop bleating, admit your all Wayne Kerr's, that you lie, cheat and steal from us taxpayers and drive on!

    So now I want to know about Crash McIdiots viagra orders and just what psychiatric medicines he's on. Then I'd also like to know what those MPs expenses are really spent on. Drugs, hookers etc etc.

    Come on Guido - hound the bu99ers!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: AC 12:51

    "So, what you're saying is that because it's on a government computer, it's okay for a member of staff to leak it?"

    Nope- My point was that the leak is irrelevant. If McBride emailed it from a work PC on a work account, it's counted as being an official activity- and unless it's classified, it's subject to a FOI request. Whilst "leak" and FOI request aren't exactly the same thing, the end result is the same. It sounds possible that in this instance the leaker just saved Staines and Dale a bit of time.

    As an aside- I've got no problem with leaks, as it allows me to pretend that there's still a few principled people within government. Y'know, people who'd see something like this and act in a moral way. As opposed to the people who are currently sliming Staines etc. with comments on blogs alleging he's taken 20k for this, and digging up his past.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @@AC 11:54

    "If the leaker thought that it was inappropriate, they should have notified a senior civil servant, not Guido Fawkes."

    Actually, if the leaker is in IT then they're a Civil servant, and they probably know that there is no point in telling a senior civil servant becouse at best they'll ignore it at worse have you fired and the evidence destroyed. So they leak to someone they thought would air them.

    If government, or direct Cabinet appointees do something to discredit the government (like hire illegal foreign workers or smear opponents) then they should put up with the fact that they may get caught.

    Something like this should remind them that although they sit in the big seats they don't have all the power, even a little guy at the bottom of the food chain can in a moment tear down a giant.

  29. RW
    IT Angle

    The $64,000 Question

    What, precisely, are NuLab's objectives?

    The more I see of their nonsense, the less I understand what they are trying to accomplish. Yes, some commentators say it's that they're busy lining their pockets, but that doesn't ring true. Here on el-Reg, there's a tendency to say they are trying to institute a police state, but let me ask: to what end? I doubt Mrs. Timney actually gives much of a damn about the results of her endless introduction of police state-like laws.

    There seems to be no ideologist guiding things, either, in spite of my own suggestion that the goal is the creation of the New British Man, along the line of the Bolsheviks' attempted creation of the New Soviet Man in Russia.

    It's gotten to the point of suspecting that NuLab themselves don't know what their own objectives are. In fact, they may have no over-arching objectives at all.

    It then comes down to two things motivating them: a inchoate feeling that they must remain in power (but to what end?), and a weak-minded desire to do something, anything, about all the small evils of the world. Perhaps they think of themselves as being the only pure-minded people in Britain, so they seek to impose their own tawdry version of morality on the nation? (Cue "New British Man" again).

    Perhaps it's like a weathervane that catches every light air and twists this way and that in a fairly useless fashion: NuLabour responds to every hysterical story in the Mail and other scandal-rags, driven by the idea "we must do something".

    At the end of the day (and the end of this over-long verbosity) I remain as puzzled as ever.

  30. Alex Walsh

    "But I didn't lie on purpose"

    Its only a lie if you do it on purpose!

    The efforts at damage limitation are funny but fundamentally either:

    1) Brown knew about it all and is a very naughty boy, unfit to run the country.

    2) Brown didn't know what his closest advisors were up to, and if he can't keep a handle on someone he has such a close working relationship with, he's unfit to run the country.

    So either way Labour are stuffed.

  31. Onionman

    Ref "What, precisely, are NuLab's objectives?" by RW

    To remain in power. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I'm not being facetious; I genuinely think that's their only motive now.


  32. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It all becomes clear..

    I think I know why they are so all fired up about databases for keeping track of everything we do and say, they think we're as dishonest and morally bankrupt as they are.

    Paris, hopefully morally bankrupt...

  33. Anonymous Coward

    I don't care about the how of the leak

    I think arguing if the leak was or wasn't appropriate is missing a fundamental point.

    I would like to know how ANYONE in any decent frame of mind can even consider such ideas, let alone write it down (combining malevolence with stupidity). I don't care if they planned to use it, the fact that it even came up as a consideration proves such a shameless flexibility to truth and decency that any voter should immediately ask themselves questions if anyone inviting such people to work for them (more than once) is actually entitled to be in that office at all. That's an absolutely appalling lack of judgment.

    I would, accordingly, thus award whoever leaked these emails clear whistleblower status. He, she or it deserves it ("it" in case of an IT problem - keep it!). It appears well overdue that those offices get some oversight from the voters - there must be a reason to the stench emanating from them.

    Kindly remember this next time you vote. Please do.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brown hates leaked information

    Strange for a man who built his political career on leaked information in opposition.

  35. scotchbonnet


    May I suggest that the objective is blindingly simple - the accumulation of power. It's what drives most heavy-handed thugs and repressive regimes in the end - the desire to control all they rule.

  36. John Smith Gold badge
    Gates Horns


    "but let me ask: to what end? I"

    Because they can.

    And because certain civil servants have whispered in their ears its a brillant idea, a legacy that will last a 1000 years (as no doubt some of their counterparts have whispered in the ears of leaders of other countries).

    Disraeli said countries have no permanent friends, only permanent interests. Such civil servants only have their permanent desire for power. Their current masters are their current excuse.

    Icon of someone else with rather similar views. 1 platform. 1 interface. 1 OS. 1 Leader. Forever.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I'd just like to join in with the chorus



    Paris, nothing to hide...

    Anon, natch.

  38. Eponymous Cowherd
    Black Helicopters

    New Labour Objectives?

    God knows.

    They seem to be hell-bent on shooting themselves in the foot. Its almost as if they fully expect, or even plan, to lose the next election and are intent on leaving such a god-awful shitting mess for the next Gov't that they will have no hope of fixing it all in a single term of office, allowing Labour back in in 6 years time.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @AC 14-Apr-2009:12:51


    So, what you're saying is that because it's on a government computer, it's okay for a member of staff to leak it?

    If the leaker thought that it was inappropriate, they should have notified a senior civil servant, not Guido Fawkes. Clearly, what they actually thought was "what's the maximum damage I can do to a political party I don't like?"

    It's either okay to misuse your employer's IT systems or it isn't. You can't have it both ways. If it isn't okay, then the leaker should also be sacked along with McBride. You can't go leaking information from Downing Street and expect to get away with it.


    Who owns the government IT kit? The people supposedly elected to represent the voters of England. And where do they get their power from? The same voters who pay for them and their kit, through taxes etc.

    What if the 'leaker' was a member of ZaNew Labour who believes in fighting fairly and honestly - unlike most of the higher echelon appear to do. Tony Bliar got the party elected since he CLAIMED they were a party without 'sleaze', but since then we have had a near-constant stream of ZaNew Labourites getting caught either breaking the rules or 'merely' bending them so far out of shape they look to be made of soft rubber. Affairs in Parliamentary offices, suspect claims on expenses, crying "Foul" whenever another dodgy deal or "selective application" of rules is exposed, dodgy funding of Party activities and campaigns...

    By going to a "senior civil servant' all the leaker really guarantees is that his or her name ends up on a sh-1-t list somewhere and they get ruined while the bad guys get away scott free again.

    We *DO* need people like the Guido Fawkes team who "leak" the dirty little secrets that the party in power want to hide. What would happen if it came election time and ZaNew Labour played the "Tory Sleaze" card again, but nobody had leaked what Bliar's and Brown's bunch of mobile misdemeanours had been getting up to, what would happen?

    WRT leaking information and getting away with it, what makes Downing Street any different from anywhere else? If Person A suspects that Person B is doing wrong, then surely they should report it? And in this case, Person B was a direct advisor to the senior civil servant (ha! there's a laugh!) in the country, so merely reporting it direct to the chain of command would do no good whatsoever.

    If any politician breaks the rules then they should be punished, regardless of which party they belong to; "I didn't know" or "I was only following orders" don't cut it in the private sector, so why the hell should politicians think they can get away with it?

    Oh, and New Labour's aims? Hold onto power as long as possible, by any means possible. If Gordon Brown had called an election last year, he might have got away with it. But by hangning on as long as he possibly can, he's just giving the voters more and more reasons to kick the Labour Party out again. I'm just waiting for the "terrorist threat" to get to the point where it will not be safe to have a General Election and we end up with a "President For Life"...

  40. Hugh_Pym

    Ironic no?

    A political party user a smear campaign to complain about a smear campaign.

    All party politicians are interested in power above all. That is why they join a party. If they had any interest in doing the right thing for their constituency they would not join an organisation that has a senior official who's sole job is to force members to do as they are told even when they don't think it is right.

    I find it disgusting to listen to the whole lot of them throwing shit at each other about truth, honesty, and above all integrity. They are politicians for god's sake of course they lie and cheat. It is their stock in trade. They belong to political parties of course they smear the opposition.

    Put your hands up if you think politicians are trustworthy. Thought so.

  41. Matt


    is anyone else getting sick of his I didn't know about it defense?

    As the guy "running" the country, he sure does miss a lot of crap going on under his nose, maybe he has lived with the shit for so long he can't smell it anymore.....

  42. Roger Lee

    What leak?

    One of the recipients of these tawdry emails was a certain Charlie Whelan, erstwhile Gordon Brown chief thug (even the PLP couldn't stomach him) and currently Director of Politics at Unite where he is alleged to be something of a bad smell.

    The emails went from the allegedly super-secure No. 10 email system to a fairly hostile, private email system, certainly used by, and possibly administrated by, people who are not impressed by this nonsense, nor those who instigated it. Since the Unite network is private and probably covered by one of the standard "fair use" policies, it is probable that, were this the source of the so-called "leaks", no law would have been broken, and they could effectively use the emails in any way they saw fit.

    Why do people assume that because they know that one end of a communication conduit is secure, the other end must be?

    I reckon there's a BOFL somewhere out there who has inadvertently done everyone a favour. He'll have to be more careful next time...

  43. John Smith Gold badge

    @Roger Lee

    Don't be silly.

    The BOFH is never caught unless he wants to be.

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