I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next man (did man really land on the moon? I mean, really?) but I'm sorry to have to tell you that Dan Hodges wasn't "axed", "pushed" or "forced out" from the New Statesman. By me -- or anyone else.
I'm repeatedly asked if I had him "sacked". I didn't even know he'd "quit". I'm bemused by the number of people who have bought into this nonsense. I mean, come on: this is Dan Hodges we're talking about here. This is the guy who gleefully admitted to being the brains behind an anti-AV poster that suggested electoral reform might lead to the deaths of newborn babies; who hubristically announced, four days ahead of the result of the Labour leadership election, that "David Miliband has won"; who grandly declared that "the next general secretary of the Labour Party is set to be Chris Lennie" less than a month before Lennie lost.
As no one in the Labour Party appears willing to admit their part in the plot to bring down Tony Blair, I'll cough. I was up to my neck in it.
I briefed and span. Placed stories. Sowed seeds of confusion and dissent.
(He "briefed and span" [sic] and "sowed seeds of confusion and dissent". Hmm, little has changed, I see . . .)
Let me deal with some of the conspiratorial claims that have been made, starting with the David Ray Griffin of "Hodgesgate", Guido Fawkes. His ludicrous blog post, published on 10 October and based on a briefing from (who else?) Dan himself, and written without the aid of New-Yorker-style fact checkers, claimed:
In the Thursday edition published during party conference Dan Hodges' article about the booing of Blair was spiked and didn't appear in the magazine
But Dan didn't have an article scheduled to run in the post-Labour-conference issue of the NS. Why? Because Dan was a guest blogger.
Hodges was told he would be rested from the magazine for a few months
Um, er, how can I put this delicately for the conspiratorially-minded? Dan Hodges did not write for the magazine. He was a freelance, guest blogger -- one of several -- who contributed a sum total of four freelance articles to the magazine over the course of his 11-month-relationship with the NS. How do you "rest" someone from something they didn't do?
Other (non-Tory) allies of Dan included (surprise surprise!) disgruntled ex-employees of the NS such as Nick Cohen and Martin Bright. You couldn't make this stuff up.
But back to Dan Hodges. A few weeks ago, a shadow cabinet minister who has known him for several years turned to me and said:
When the time is right, Dan will screw you over. He is using you.
Who says the current Labour shadow cabinet doesn't contain visionaries? The anonymous (see what I did there, Dan?) shadow minister's prophesy turned out to be true.
Hodges, having published four blog posts in a row slamming Ed Miliband (and in the headlines, too!), decided to "flounce" off from the NS earlier this month. Asked by the New Statesman's deputy editor to perhaps consider writing the occasional blog post on an issue other than his monomaniacal obsession with the Labour leader -- a rather common and reasonable request made by commissioning editors across the land to their reporters, columnists and bloggers -- he claimed censorship, invented a conspiracy theory involving Ed Miliband himself (woo-hoo!) and migrated to that bastion of free speech, the Telegraph blogs, where he will now perform the role of the right's useful idiot and join Damian "Indulgence of Islam is harming society" Thompson.
Just to conclude, it is worth noting that Dan himself has backtracked on his original Guido-aided spin: asked by Paul Waugh on Twitter whether he was "really being axed by the @NewStatesman", he replied:
Yet, in his colour-filled blog post for the Telegraph, he wrote:
Unless he heard from me, he should take it I'd resigned.
And resign I did.
Yes, he resigned. Of his own volition. Without being pushed by Ed Miliband. Or Jon Bernstein. Or me.
It's boring, I know. But it's also true.