The smear-merchants behind ‘Smeargate’

This entry was posted on
Monday, April 13th, 2009
6:37 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

To begin with, just let me say this: Derek Draper, Derek Draper, Derek Draper, Derek Draper.

Sorry about that minor foray into the archives. Tim J of Conservative Party Reptile is concerned that I’ve not mentioned Draper enough, and would have you think that I’m trying to excuse Derek Draper’s behaviour or distract you from his deeds, even though I have already condemned his actions and publicly tagged him as the wrong man for the job before Iain Dale and Paul Staines started using Draper’s clumsy underhanded tactics to paint themselves whiter than white (in part before even the emails at the centre of ‘smeargate’, that were sent on Jan 13 and seen by Paul Staines aka ‘Guido Fawkes’ that same day*).

[Psst! In fact, for the most likely explanation for Staines seeing/receiving the McBride/Draper emails on the same day* they were sent, see this entry on my blog about an email Derek Draper sent in Jan 16. In that exchange, Draper appears to accidentally (openly) CC Greg Jackson, Sue Macmillan, Tom Miller and Alex Smith on our conversation instead of (secretly) BCCing them. What I didn’t blog at the time, was the part where Greg Jackson replied to the group without realising that I would be reading his comments about my ‘arrogance’. Draper and his gang are a bunch of keyboard-mashing nincompoops; chances are someone somewhere (probably Draper) CCed/included/emailed Staines or one of his informants thanks to an auto-fill function and a lack of care or common sense. The most likely scenario in the circumstances is that Draper tried to CC/BCC someone on the ‘smeargate’ email(s) but BCCed Staines or one of his informants instead. This is the most likely scenario because it allows for a long period where McBride was unaware of the leak that needed immediate attention, and Draper – who admits himself that he’s a self-destructive arsehole – was willing to gamble that his mistake would never come to light. If that’s the way it happened, it is likely that Draper is still the only person who knows it was his mistake, not least because he still finds himself in a job. In such a scenario, it is equally likely that Draper himself is still unaware of his own mistake, as he is famously ignorant of just about anything to do with the internet and how it works.]

[*MINI-UPDATE (14 Apr) – It turns out there are are conflicting accounts of when Staines was shown these emails (and what he did with them afterwards, and here I’d like to note that Staines’ carefully-phrased/timed denials about him seeking and eventually receiving payment for this story don’t add up to much). Paul Staines may have heard of these emails in Jan/Feb/Mar but not received them until as late as the early days of April. Of course, I can’t ask him about that because he’s a childish query-dodging so-and-so, but this still allows for the ‘accidental CC/BCC’ scenario, but to one of Staines sources, and not Staines himself.]

Tim J also appears to be mistaking ‘fixated’ or ‘obsessed’ with ‘well informed and justifiably concerned’.

Iain Dale and Paul Staines and Derek Draper all represent what is wrong and dangerous in the political blogosphere.

The reason Dale and Staines especially seem so popular is because (a) they manipulate and feed off the mainstream media sewer they claim to be above, (b) they lie and mislead people about their traffic figures, and (c) they individually do get an audience that’s roughly double mine by the ingenious method of telling people what they want to hear, censoring any valid challenge to their claims, and letting people smear anyone who isn’t an ally of theirs under comments.

Oh, and they and their supporters also use and abuse multiple personalities under comments (see two key entries on ‘sock-puppets’ here and here), so for every hundred comments on some days there’s maybe a dozen people in it. It’s very hard to catch people doing this on their own website(s), but Paul Staines has been caught doing it outside his own website (pretending to be supporter, no less), and Iain Dale has a long track record of (at the very least) allowing this sock-puppeting on his site when it is to his advantage and actually using such comments as a weapon in debates/discussions that aren’t going his way (a classic example awaits you here if you have the patience for it). Draper is too new to have any real form here, but he’s clearly a comment cheat, and not above a little sock-puppetry, even if he understands that it’s wrong (which I doubt).

[Psst! Iain Dale once told me that he’d never – never – seen any evidence of my sock-puppeting on his site, even though he’s published many claims to the contrary.]

It should also be pointed out that this stage that being popular/successful does not make you right and not every visit to your website is a vote for you!


While writing this I discovered that Iain Dale published and fed to the media a false claim that Tom Watson was CCed on the ‘smeargate’ emails. He rested on this false claim a repeated demand that Tom Watson explain his inaction… over emails Iain knew he had never seen. This false claim (and demands/narratives very similar to Iain’s) later spread to several newspapers, and influenced many online conversations about this event, on Iain’s site and elsewhere.


In an interview with The Stirrer, Dale confessed there was no evidence to support this assertion. He said, “I do accept that he wasn’t cc’d into the emails.”

He added: “Knowing the layout of that office, I can’t believe he didn’t know about Red Rag, but I can’t prove it.”

When asked why he hadn’t apologised for his error, Dale said that he had only posted it for around 15 minutes on his site on Saturday night, and had even emailed the Mail On Sunday with a correction – which nevertheless repeated the slur.

“I don’t know why they didn’t remove the reference” he said. “I can only assume arrived too late before they went to press.”

So Iain now claims that he originally thought this claim to be true, but then found out he was wrong 15 minutes after he published? Even if this were true – and it is unlikely, as Iain Dale is a shameless liar and the master of the plausible excuse – he still has to explain why he did not immediately correct all of the relevant entries on his site and/or make urgent efforts to correct the other newspapers who had repeated the claim… and why he continued with repeated implications of Tom Watson’s involvement while his readers were under the impression that Watson had been CCed on the emails, when he had not.

(And Iain is complaining because Tom is warning him that if he continues he’ll have to answer for this in court? He can go forget himself. Contrary to what some pseudo-bloggers would have you think, I am not against taking people to court, I am instead against unjust use of UK libel law to silence someone while denying them their day in court.)

Iain Dale and Paul Staines and Derek Draper should also be warned that they now give me no choice but to come at them at 24 frames per second.

Or perhaps 12 frames per second… just to get it out of the way quickly, because the smell of the shit they’ve been flinging is putting me off my blogging.

With you shortly.

About Tim Ireland

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