Long before “Smeargate” — the plan cooked up between Gordon Brown aide Damian McBride and New Labour wonk, turned psychotherapist, turned blogger, Derek Draper to muck-rake against top Tories — hit the headlines, Draper was involved in similar-style campaigns. Back in the late 80s he used his talent for spinning, smearing and when all else failed plain lying... against the left. Top of his hit list back in 1988 was ourselves.
Draper was then at Manchester University and a Labour Student über-hack. (This writer recalls being sprayed with spittle as Draper earnestly defended witch-hunting socialists from the Labour Party.) Writing under the pseudonym David Jackson, he complied a vicious little “expose” of our comrades for the University’s student union newspaper, Mancunion. The article was called Saints or SSINers?
This then is how he served his apprentiship.
At the time our organisation published Socialist Organiser and our student comrades were involved in a broad left student network called Socialist Students in NOLS (SSIN). (The NOLS bit stood for the National Organisation of Labour Students which at the time had left-wing participation.)
Draper and his cronies wanted to claim that Socialist Students was merely a front for Socialist Organiser. Typically he tried to whip up a tabloidy frenzy around made-up lurid stories: “Many outspoken critics repeat the same allegation: that access to free and easy drugs and sex is used to draw young recruits into the twilight world of the... operation.”
Other allegations were less hilarious, more politically illiterate.
Aside from being addicted to hard drugs we wished to promote “the ideology which guided the Russian revolutionaries, Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky and which led to the creation of the Soviet dictatorship.”
Bracketing together of Trotsky and Stalin ignored the obvious and well-known fact that Trotsky fought Stalin’s dictatorship and was murdered for his trouble and that he stood for a system more democratic than Westminster, not less.
From “reds under the beds” to “Tories in bed with vice girls” Draper and his like have not travelled far. His blog Labourlist was set up “rebut” arguments against Labour. In other words it is a project for people who know they have lost the argument, don’t have any coherent arguments and reach for smears as their only resort.