He's desperate, Dan
Even the headline of Hodges’ piece, “Tom Watson's power is waning - and soon he's going to have to choose where his loyalties lie”, is at the very least questionable. But it is on Dugher where he really sells the pass: the MP “was a well respected and well liked member of the shadow cabinet, who had a reputation for being one of Labour’s most effective anti-Tory ‘attack dogs’”. Two things here.
Being an “attack dog” does not equal shadow cabinet competence. And Dugher was, as I’ve already told, regarded as useless, ineffective on subjects like Leveson 1 and 2, the BBC Charter Review and the threatened sell-off of Channel 4. But back to Hodges: “he was also viewed by many colleagues as being ‘untouchable’ because he enjoyed the patronage of Tom Watson - one of his closest friends - and Andy Burnham”.
Then we see just how clueless Hodges can be: of Watson’s absence on holiday, he notes “‘It’s all got a whiff of John Major’s toothache’ one [Labour MP] said to me – a reference to the dental emergency that allowed Major to avoid signing Margaret Thatcher’s nomination papers during the Tory putsch of 1990”. That, Dan, was an enormous hint that you were being given - a hint that you missed totally.
Andy Burnham, too, tried his best to let Hodges know that he was barking up the wrong tree, at one point Tweeting to him “You don't half talk rubbish sometimes”. But Hodges was too clever by half, sniggering “So I'm wrong. You are resigning then”. No Dan, he wasn’t resigning. He was never going to resign. You just don’t get it.
Someone can't take the hint
Dugher was given a respectful send-off by Watson and many others. That does not mean they had wanted him to remain in the shadow cabinet. It means they did not want to see him humiliated by a move that was seen as inevitable. Many of them, as Hodges rightly tells, go back a long way together. That is all.
Look where he went running to
That is because Dugher has gone running to - where else - the Murdoch press, making some most creative allegations in today’s Times, such as “Corbyn keeps bad company, most are out of their depth” (says MP who was, er, out of his depth shadowing the DCMS), and claiming that Ken Livingstone is “running the Labour leadership”.