Draper isn't the point here...
Tim Ireland has responded in post-form, as well as at length in the comments, to this post. Unfortunately, I still think he’s missing the point. By focusing on the role played by Guido and Iain, Tim misses the important things about this story. Reminding me that he doesn’t like Derek Draper either is really not relevant.
I’ll say it again: Draper isn’t the interesting part of the story here. ‘Bloggers misusing blogs in various nefarious ways’ is just not very interesting.
What is important is that this was being planned from no. 10. The important figure in this story, as it currently stands, is McBride. Draper is a lackey; a remf. Incidentally, I entirely believe Draper’s line of defence that he had only responded so enthusiastically because he wanted to curry favour with Downing Street to win its support for his website, LabourList because it so utterly fits with what I have heard about him. It doesn’t excuse it, but it does explain it.
Tim has said that since the claims that Tom Watson was copied in on the emails have not been substantiated – and have now in fact been retracted – this devalues the underlying story. That since Guido/Iain are smearing Watson it invalidates their story about McBride/Draper smearing other people. Bluntly, this is rubbish. If the story had been broken by Baron Munchausen, with Pinocchio standing as corroborative evidence, it would still have been a significant story. No-one denies that these emails were written by McBride – he’s resigned as a result. No-one denies that there were plans to set up Red Rag – it was in beta and ready to go.
As I said in the comments, if this had been a story where Andy Coulson had been ringing up Guido and Iain about setting up a website designed to smear the family members of Labour MPs, I doubt whether Tim would be concentrating on the foibles and flaws of the people who broke the story.