The first copies of Damian McBride’s book dropped in Brighton today, and the former spinner has been explaining not just his actions in government but why on earth he decided to write about them. Here are the highlights of his confessions:
Nearly everything the former spin doctor has said so far suggests he is quite contrite about his actions. On Newsnight last night, McBride said of his ‘victims’:
‘I do feel ashamed, I do feel sorry to those individuals whose careers I affected and even more so to the sort of innocent bystanders who were caught in the way’
McBride has also denied Alastair’s Campbell claim he broke the law (£) through the leaking of confidential documents:
‘I was always very careful about this during the years that I wasn’t committing any criminal offences. For example I go great lengths to explain how I would not leak classified documents, and I would take pains to avoid leaking it. I would be happy to talk to the police if they wanted an explanation.’
Much has been asked of how much Gordon Brown knew of his actions. McBride suggests very little:
‘I don’t think he knew what I was doing a lot of the time, I operated quite a lot in the shadows, I spent a lot of time just in pubs with different journalists and doing that kind of operation
‘I think what Gordon always knew that he got from me was media intelligence that was unparalleled, and access to difft bits of the media that pols couldn’t reach. Frankly he never asked the question ‘how did you pull this off?’ because he just assumed that this was based on my personal relationship with the journalists’
To his credit, McBride has remained loyal to Brown, despite the publication of this tell-all book. Brown receives the dedication ‘To Gordon, the greatest man I ever met. Thanks for all you did’. In return, the former Prime Minister refused to answer questions on McBride.
McBride has also responded to Douglas Alexander (again) on the Daily Politics for his supposed ‘destructive briefing’ while admitting that ‘politics needs conflict’:
‘I think for Douglas to say that he has never engaged in any kind of divisive or destructive briefing, I don’t think is accurate. You will remember the damaging story that came out about Gordon Brown seeking five separate meetings with President Obama in September 2009 – that story came from someone working for Douglas Alexander.’
And finally, McBride has attempted to protect Miliband and Balls, stating neither were aware of how he carried out his briefing operations:
‘They assumed that the reason I had these close relationships with journalists and I was able to influence what came out in the media was just because of investing time in those relationships. I was the one that was willing to go and spend time, all afternoon in the pub with Sunday journalists in the hope of producing good stories. They didn’t know, there was no way those journalists were going to spend their bar tab on me unless I was feeding them stories.’
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.