Derek Draper quits as LabourList editor
Once again, the former spin doctor has been shunned by Labour Party insiders
The former Labour spin doctor Derek Draper has quit the editorship of the LabourList website in the wake of the Damian McBride affair. It was 'Dolly' Draper to whom McBride sent emails suggesting ways to smear leading members of the Conservative party. McBride (above, left), for a long time one of Gordon Brown's most trusted aides, was fired from Number 10 as a result.
When the affair first came to light last month, 31-year-old Draper (above, right) was reported to have called McBride's proposed campaign "absolutely totally brilliant". The idea was that he would start a second website called Red Rag, with no public links to Number 10 or the Labour Party, on which McBride's smears would be planted.
Now, announcing his departure from LabourList, he has apparently seen the error of his ways. "I regret ever receiving the infamous e-mail and I regret my stupid, hasty reply," he said. "Instead I should have said straight away that the idea was wrong."
He added: "What has become clear is that my continued editorship can only detract from what LabourList needs to do now."
Quite what LabourList does need to do now, and who will run the website set up by Draper only last year, is unclear. Its mission is "to provide a platform for debate for every level of our movement, and for those who disagree with us".
Draper's departure follows considerable pressure from senior Labour Party members to have him banished. As soon as the smear campaign emerged, party general secretary Ray Collins banned Draper from attending any further meetings of the party's ruling National Executive Committee.
Tony Lloyd, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, representing Brown's backbenchers, demanded three weeks ago that Draper quit LabourList. "It would be much better if Derek Draper stepped aside," he said. "It is just daft to think that this has not damaged us." But Draper clung on until now.
This is not the first time that the former aide to Peter Mandelson has found himself a party outcast. In 1998, while working as a lobbyist, he was caught on tape by an Observer journalist, posing as a businessman, claiming that he could sell access to Labour government ministers. He famously boasted that "there are 17 people who count in this government... to say I am intimate with every one of them is the understatement of the century."
He was shunned by Labour insiders and sacked from his job as a political columnist on the Daily Express. Mandelson said at the time that his former sidekick had "a fine intelligence, but sometimes I am afraid he misuses that intelligence. He gets above himself."
Draper went off to retrain as a psychotherapist and in 2005 married the GMTV presenter Kate Garraway. She was reported by friends to be "absolutely disgusted" when she heard about the smear campaign. ·
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