Socialist Worker

Does smear scandal trail lead back to Unite union?

Issue No. 2147

Attempts to set up a website to smear Tory politicians led to one New Labour spin doctor resigning last week and a fresh crisis for Gordon Brown.

Hidden away in the scandal are questions of the role played by figures in the Unite union.

Senior Brown advisor Damian McBride resigned after he sent emails outlining plans to fake stories for a New Labour-supporting website – to be called Red Rag – to “destabilise” the Tories.

There has been some attempt to suggest these were “unauthorised actions” initiated by rogue bloggers. But those involved are key Labour figures.

The recipients of the emails were Derek Draper, Charlie Whelan and Andrew Dodgson.

Draper is former aide to Lord Mandelson and in charge of Labour’s internet strategy. He runs the LabourList website.

LabourList was launched at Labour Party headquarters with funding provided by Unite’s political fund.

Charlie Whelan – a former Gordon Brown spin-doctor – is now the political director of Unite. His precise duties are unclear, but Whelan controls a large budget and staff.

Andrew Dodgson is a press officer for Unite, and the emails suggest that he was to run the site.

Unite members facing ruthless employers, pay cuts and redundancies may wonder why their money is being spent on this farce.

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Article information

Tue 14 Apr 2009, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2147
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