A good keen man

It is no secret that I love hunting, whether in the traditional sense or the political sense.

The thrill of the chase, understanding your quarry, finding their habits, tracking them down, manipulating their behaviour, bending them to your will and finally the kill.

It takes a good keen man to do that in the traditional sense, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t be applied too in the political world. Damian McBride appears to be one such good keen man.

A key aide to Gordon Brown has admitted destroying the careers of New Labour Cabinet ministers by using dark arts to smear political opponents.

Damian McBride, Mr Brown’s former communications chief, said he discredited the former prime minister’s enemies by tipping off the media about drug use, spousal abuse, alcoholism and extramarital affairs.

In an autobiography that will cast a shadow over Labour’s party conference in Brighton next week, Mr McBride admits attempting to ruin the careers of the former home secretaries Charles Clarke and John Reid. 

Mr McBride claims that he did it all out of “devotion” and “some degree of love” for Mr Brown, whom he describes as “the greatest man I ever met”.

The disclosures will cause acute embarrassment to Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, and Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, who were allies of Mr Brown during his time in Downing Street.

In the book, serialised in the Daily Mail, Mr McBride claims that he helped to end Mr Clarke’s cabinet career by concocting a briefing war between him and a key adviser to Mr Blair.

The former spin doctor writes that he helped to force Mr Reid to quit his Cabinet post by leaking details of alleged “drinking, fighting and carousing”.

He confesses that he punished Ivan Lewis, then a junior minister, for criticising Mr Brown by leaking claims that he had been “pestering” a female aide. These claims were completely denied by Mr Lewis.

Mr McBride was forced to resign in 2009 for his part in an email plot to discredit senior Conservative ministers.

His disclosures were preceded by the release of hundreds of emails revealing the extent of the civil war between Tony Blair and Mr Brown.

One email suggested that Mr Brown told Mr Blair that he should resign because the public “hate him”. Another suggested that Mr Blair allowed members of his staff to describe the attempt to oust him as “blackmail”.

The emails were released by Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, a former director of the strategic communications unit under Mr Blair.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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