Downing Street's feeble efforts to keep a lid on 'Smeargate' has blown up in its face, with pressure mounting on the beleaguered prime minister to explain exactly what he knew, when he knew it and who else was involved.
The Tory sex smear email scandal has rocked the rotten government to its core.
Despite the best efforts of Saturday's Daily Telegraph pre-emptive spoiler, to allow Downing Street a chance to play down the squalid affair, 'Smeargate' exploded in the Sunday newspapers and on the world stage with US Drudge giving it the prominence it deserves.
For government ministers their only hope would have been to sit tight and try to ride out the storm over the Easter holidays or get it all out in the open - quickly. Instead the rotting carcass is set to be picked over and over.
With an amazing lack of political judgement, postie turned Blairite pasty, Alan Johnson, popped up on the BBC Today programme to defend his boss in the latest salvo to spin away from Brown, destroying any credibility he had left among rank and file Labour Party members.
Burying his head in the sand, health secretary Johnson said he was "surprised shocked and disgusted" by the e-mails but Brown should not personally apologise, suggesting the prime minister could not be held responsible for everything that people who surround him get up to.
With some disreputable spinning footwork of his own, Johnson tried to neatly side-step the crucial issue. McPoison was no lowly two-bit player. He was at Brown's side in the spinning Downing Street propaganda war room, a senior and trusted Brown aide and strategist.
Johnson's comments won't help Brown, in fact they move the story on and once again point the finger at the Supreme Leader and his digitised minister, Tom Watson who seems to have gone to ground after a quick burst of denial.
Peter Oborne writing in today's Mail makes the point which chimes with those of the Orange Party, made here yesterday. To say Brown was not involved is laughable: "The prime minister is up to his neck in this squalid affair."
The political fall-out dealt a bitter blow for Brown, after one of his most senior aides, Damian McBride, dubbed McPoison, was fingered by political blogger, Paul Staines, aka Guido, over emails discussing vile and unfounded sex smear stories about top Tory MPs, sent to New Labour blogger, Derek Draper, to be used on a scurrilous New Labour pre-election website, 'Red Rag'.
Former ambassador and legal brain, Craig Murray reckons there is "the clearest of prima facie cases that McBride has committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office. There appears a strong prima facie case also against Mr Charles Whelan."
Today Guido drives the nail into the coffin: "Derek Draper’s “Red Rag” anonymous smear site was registered on November 4, 2008 according to publicly available records. Draper had lunch at Chequers with Gordon Brown on Sunday 16, November 200 ... Draper boasted to many people that he was helping Gordon Brown. Did he not discuss with Brown what he was doing for him? Was Damian McBride also at the same Chequers lunch?"
The smear campaign, spun by Number Ten as a "juvenile and inappropriate" prank by two blokes, has back-fired. Anyone who thinks this will end New Labour spin is living in fool's paradise.
During his time in Downing Street, Brown's attack dog McBride did the job at his master's bidding. Brown may not have been in on the detail but would be aware of the broad outline of the cunning pre-election plan.
Over at the Sun, Trevor Kavanagh makes the point Brown lives and breathes plotting: "Caught red-handed, the scandal-mongers tried the old trick of pretending it was all juvenile high jinks and never intended for publication. Don’t fall for it. This was a sinister and unscrupulous operation to malign the next government. It was intended to hurt anyone in range, including innocent bystanders."
As pressure on Brown to apologise intensified from both Tories and within Labour ranks, the Orange Party believes a personal apology is the least the Tory leader should expect but Brown should be forced to make that to the house of commons and a vote of confidence would have to follow.
The lies, smears and deceit go to the heart of a rotten government bent on trying to cling onto power in its dying fag-end days. The stench of corruption fills the air. A commons no confidence vote means ministers and pay-roll MPs would have to stand up and be counted before election day, when voters then will have their chance.
UPDATE 1.57pm: Even Blair's spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, believes Brown should apologise. This won't go away.
Picture: Trumble, Sun