The Guardian has a follow up article giving some details of the mechanics of the unsuccessful "Hotmail plot" by the anti-Gordon Brown faction of Labour Members of Parliament
The rebels switched from email to texts on a disposable mobile but bid to oust PM was doomed
* Allegra Stratton, political correspondent
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 June 2009 21.48 BST
At 3pm on Monday 8 June, 15 people met in an MP's office in the House of Commons to agree that, for the time being at least, the Hotmail Plot had failed.
"The difference between getting 50 and the necessary 70 will be the disloyalty factor," one told the Guardian when the plot was in full swing. The Hotmail Plot -- so called because of the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, which MPs were asked to sign up to, calling for Brown to go, remained undetected for days until the Guardian revealed it at noon, shortly after Blears had resigned.
By Wednesday evening, the covert tactic unravelled as thousands of emails arrived. Apart from the odd one from genuinely sympathetic MPs, spoofs, foreign emails, and junk emails flowed in.
Exactly as predicted in the Spy Blog article email@example.com - The Email Address Most Likely To Be Snooped On ? - Labour in crisis: the Hotmail conspiracy
One rebel said: "We got one email from firstname.lastname@example.org [the email address of the chief whip]. It might be that they were hoping we'd publish a list and not notice his name was in it and then he could show all the names were ridiculous."
Did they check the full email headers to see if it was sent from the parliamentary email servers e.g. hpux13x.parliament.uk, hp3k17m.parliament.uk etc. and the outsourced anti-spam and anti-virus email service run by messagelabs.com , or was it simply a trivially spoofed email return address ?
Instead, the rebels adopted a tactic favoured by organised criminals and bought an untraceable pay as you go mobile, encouraging sympathetic colleagues to get in touch that way. It became a text message plot.
The use of SMS text messages was suggested in the previous Spy Blog article above.
It is wrong to imply that only organised criminals have a need for an "untraceable pay as you go mobile" - there was nothing illegal in this anti-Gordon Brown faction's attempt to gather support, and certainly no justification for any police or intelligence agency snooping, but. since knowledge is power, the temptation to do so without proper authorisation,or on some flimsy excuse invoking "national security" or "the prevention, detection or prosecution of crime", might be too great, and we the public, have no way of checking up on this.
Why did the anti-Gordon Brown faction not use SMS text messages right from the start, before the Hotmail email idea ?
Each of the core "plotters", should have obtained at least one such mobile phone.
Did these MPs claim the cost of these mobile phones from their office expenses ?
Perhaps they should read our Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc. (and anti- Gordon Brown factions in the Labour party)
One cabinet minister due to meet a rebel for dinner had their meeting cancelled - there simply wasn't a restaurant in London discreet enough.
That simply is not true, unless the Cabinet Minister's police protection team cannot be trusted not to blab.
Does the anti-Brown faction believe that they were/are under surveillance ?
Instead, that evening they would have the first of three phone calls. The cabinet minister was interested in the nature of names, irrespective of whether they had arrived by email, text or carrier pigeon.
Remember that the Wilson Doctrine regarding the Interception of the phone calls of Members of Parliament, does not seem to apply to Communications Traffic Data snooping on mobile phones or landlines i.e. who called or sent SMS text messages to whom, and when, which would reveal most of what is of interest in this scheme, to people within the Downing Street bunker, or those who might be trying to curry favour and influence there.
On Monday at 3pm the rebels met. All their info was collated on a five-page spreadsheet across which names, mobile phone numbers, "other telephone numbers" and personal non-parliamentary email addresses were set out horizontally along with the initials of the rebel MP who had brought them on board and vouched for them.
Zealots who wanted Brown out were given the number zero and those newly persuaded the number one. Zero zealots made up most of the first page; ones extended onto the second and together they came to 54. Short of the 71 crucial figure but over the 50 they had briefed journalists would trigger publication.
But there were other categories on that spreadsheet. Number four indicated friends of Brown and category three were people whose opinions were not known.
The category that was by far the longest, stretching to about 120 was number two (yesterday one rebel rang to say: "I've just seen that two of our number twos have got jobs with the government. Patronage is a big problem for plots".) The number two denoted: "Possibles, if..."
Zero Zealots ?
Who would be likely to use such a logical computer programming style, yet utterly inhuman, numbering system starting from 0, to categorise the people on the list ? Charles Clarke has a degree in Mathematics and Economics, but that does not necessarily signify much.
Another way to snoop indirectly on these Zero Zealots, would be to target The Guardian
journalists who have been given access to these details.