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Damian McBride: Labour Feuds And Lies Revealed
Startling admissions of smear campaigns, manipulating the media and destroying political rivals have been made by Gordon Brown's former spin doctor, Damian McBride.
Four years after he quit in disgrace, the controversial former Number 10 spinner has published candid memoirs revealing his role in the feuding at the heart of New Labour in the Blair-Brown years.
Mr McBride was a former Treasury civil servant who became the Chancellor's personal spin doctor and then moved with him from the Treasury to 10 Downing Street when Mr Brown became Prime Minister in 2007.
But after a colourful and incident-packed two years in No 10, Mr McBride was forced to resign amid allegations of a plot to smear prominent Conservative politicians.
In extracts from his memoirs serialised in the Daily Mail, Mr McBride describes Ed Miliband as ruthless and claims Mr Brown damaged his protege Ed Balls to help Mr Miliband become Labour leader in 2010.
He reveals how he manipulated the media, twisted the truth and destroyed Mr Brown's rivals for the Labour leadership after Tony Blair stepped down as PM.
Assassination one, according to Mr McBride, was former Home Secretary John Reid, who had previously been a heavy drinker.
"I decided to unearth from my black book some of the stories I'd gathered over the years about Mr Reid's escapades from the '80s and early '90s," he writes.
Assassination two was Charles Clarke, another former Home Secretary.
"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."
He also admits to a "classic smear" against Ivan Lewis, now in the Shadow Cabinet, after an "unhelpful intervention on tax policy".
"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."
But these damaging disclosures about the past present embarrassing questions for Ed Miliband and the current Labour leadership.
The timing could not be worse for Mr Miliband, coming on the eve of the Labour Party conference, which starts in Brighton this weekend.
While they want to focus on Labour policies and fighting the coalition, Mr Miliband and Mr Balls will be challenged during the conference about what they knew about Mr McBride's conduct.