The News of the World will tomorrow report that the general secretary of the Labour party, Ray Collins, met with the now infamous smeargate paid - Damien McBride and Derek Draper.
The NOTW will report that:
"The new email, written by Labour's then internet campaign chief Derek Draper, PROVES that the meeting took place, reveals WHO was there, WHERE it was held and WHAT was on the agenda. It shows that Collins travelled across Westminster for a summit in the offices of trade union bigwig Charlie Whelan."
Although the revelations themselves are damaging, the worrying fact of this story is the slow and agonizing release of these allegations. It is reminiscent of the steady publication of stored up Tory sex scandals in the run up to the 1997 general election.
And I can't see this story going away anytime soon. The press has scented blood and what is more, there is embarrassment in the media that the press has been caught with its pants down in bed with the political establishment while the blogosphere (Paul Staines in particular) has relentless pursued the story. By being the ones who hammer the nails in to the coffin of the Labour party they will be able to find some redemption and legitimacy again.
The article goes on to state that:
"Whelan is back as Gordon Brown's unofficial Mr Fix-it, and he's now so powerful that he's effectively running the party."In response to these accusations Collins, himself a former assistant general secretary of Unite, admitted he attended the Red Rag website meeting but insisted he did not know about the McBride smears. He stated:
"I have had no knowledge whatsoever of any smears and found the stories and reports of the last week absolutely disgusting. I did attend a meeting at the Unite Head Office on December 1 to discuss online digital campaigning and how we could support and encourage left of centre websites and bloggers.This meeting was not about scurrilous rumour, personal attacks or smears as I would have been furious that such things could be seen as legitimate tools of political debate."
The big questions now are do these allegations lead to Ray Collins position becoming untenable. I do not think they will. The second, and largest issue, is whether these new accusations keep the story alive for another week?