James Forsyth

How big could Smeargate get?

How big could Smeargate get?
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PR Week has had a string of scoops about the inner workings of Brown’s Downing Street and this week it has another one. David Singleton reports that:

Well-placed sources told PRWeek there was mounting fear in the heart of Downing Street that fresh revelations about senior MPs could emerge over the next few weeks and months leading up to the general election.

Brown’s close lieutenants  such as Ed Balls, Tom Watson and Ian Austin are all believed to be vulnerable.

It is feared fresh tales could be revealed by the handful of journalists who have in the past been fed negative stories by the Brown camp – or that stories could emerge as a result of further emails that were sent to Labour blogger Derek Draper being made public.

‘It is a bit like getting Al Capone on his tax returns; it is actually one relatively minor misdemeanour – by no means are those emails the worst thing that Brown’s operation has ever done.’

Another source with close links to Downing Street said the PM’s defence was looking increasingly fragile: ‘Brown has had to stake his defence on this being a rogue operation, a single aberration that nobody else knew anything about.

‘The worry is that someone will produce evidence that it went much wider than this handful of emails and it went much wider than McBride.’

The press is keeping at this story because they are convinced that there is more to come. Indeed, some are even beginning to speculate about whether this could actually bring the government down. I’m still sceptical on that point but if proof came out that Brown’s people had smeared a member of the Cabinet since Brown became Prime Minister then the Labour party could decide that it has had enough.

PS This piece makes me wonder whether any of Carter's hires who were driven out of Downing Street by the Brownites, will break cover and tell the story of what really went on in there.

PPS I can't recommend enough to Coffee Housers Martin's latest post on where this story is going next.

Hat tip: Political Betting 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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