A former Labour spin doctor has told how he routinely leaked damaging stories about rival politicians to newspapers both before and during Gordon Brown’s premiership.
In a new book, serialised in the Daily Mail from today, Damian McBride revealed details of his campaign to smear rivals to Brown when he was battling to succeed Tony Blair as Labour leader.
McBride, who resigned from his role as Brown’s special adviser in 2009 when he was linked to a website smearing Tory MPs, leaked stories about former home secretaries John Reid and Charles Clarke after they positioned themselves as rivals for Number 10.
In the book, Power Trip, he admitted to using newspapers to spread damaging gossip about Reid, Clarke and other politicians on both sides of the house.
He wrote: “Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat; Ministers, MPs or advisers; if they'd ever shared their secrets with colleagues in Westminster, the chances were that I ended up being told about them, too.
"Drug use; spousal abuse; secret alcoholism; extra-marital affairs.
"I estimate I did nothing with 95% of the stories I was told. But, yes, some of them ended up on the front pages of Sunday newspapers.”
McBride said he was responsible for fabricating a “briefing war” involving Clarke and another Blair aide in 2005.
He said:”For several weeks in succession in 2005 when Charles Clarke was Home Secretary and a declared opponent of Gordon’s succession to the premiership, I orchestrated what looked like a briefing war between Charles and Tony Blair’s anti-social behaviour guru, Louise Casey.”
McBride also explained how a News of the World story about story about Ivan Lewis came about after the then-minister criticised Brown.
He wrote: “The following weekend, the News Of The World duly splashed a story – quite obviously from me – about his supposed pestering of a young civil servant who used to work in his private office."
Mcbride said he saw his job as protecting Brown both before and after he became Prime Minister in 2007.
He added: “I offered him the best press he could hope for, unrivalled intelligence about what was going on in the media and access to parts of the Press that no other Labour politician could reach.”