SmeargateNewspapers Downing Street will be furious that Guido Fawkes' huge scoop – that started to emerge on Saturday – has still not been closed down.  It is still leading this morning's broadcast bulletins and newspapers.  Any advantage that Brown may have hoped to gain from the G20 summit has been sunk in Damian McBride's sludge of smears.

There are still legs in the story, too.  Here are the unresolved issues:

  1. The inadequacy of Gordon Brown's letters: Yesterday, just before 5pm, the news broke that Brown was to issue letters of apology but it now seems that the content of the letters fell short of what was spun.  The Prime Minister's letters described the whole affair as a "matter of deep regret" but they haven't gone far enough according to Tory sources.  As Iain Dale told Sky News: "Tony Blair would have held his hands up, said sorry, and we would all have thought better of him for doing it."
  2. The position of Derek Draper: The editor of LabourList is still in place. Over the weekend he was defending Damian McBride. John Prescott has called for him to go and today's FT reports that senior Labour figures now intend to give the website a very wide berth: "“You won’t be seeing any of them going near it again,” said a Labour figure."
  3. The position of Tom Watson: The Sun urges the Prime Minister to sack the "poisonous" Tom Watson MP – currently a Cabinet Offioce minister – who plotted against Tony Blair and who has a reputation as a "ruthless political hardman".  Watson, The Sun Says, "is a stain on the Prime Minister’s judgment and his government’s credibility."
  4. A new line of complaint from Frances Osborne: The Shadow Chancellor's wife – one of Mr McBride's targets – has, reports The Telegraph, complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the ways in which certain newspapers repeated the fabricated stories against her.

Tim Montgomerie

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