In this week's Tribune magazine - out on Friday - the academic and former journalist Ivor Gaber examines how Ed Miliband acquired the title "Red Ed".
He ends up fingering the former Business Secretary and backer of David Miliband, Lord Mandelson, and dates the title to September of last year.
A walk-on role in the story is played by my former Newsnight producer Allegra Stratton, now a political correspondent on The Guardian, whom Gaber cites as having first quoted the title in print.
As I reported here a couple of weeks ago, Stratton is now writing a biography of Ed Miliband.
Gaber's evidence against Mandelson is not conclusive, but strongly circumstantial:
'Red Ed' - it wasn't the Sun Wot Done it (it was 'friends of Tony') by Ivor Gaber
It was a bizarre experience looking at the papers in the days following the election of Ed Miliband as Labour leader, an almost 'Life on Mars' moment (one decade on) as I read about Labour "lurching to the left", "Labour tax bombshells" and, of course, "Red Ed".
But where did "Red Ed" come from? North London, I know, but from where, deep inside the journalistic swamp, did the term emerge?
I assumed that it could be instantly traced back to the door of our old Labour-hating friends, the Sun or the Mail - indeed in the five days following Miliband's election there were around 150 references to "Red Ed" in the British national press with the Sun leading the way with 49 mentions and the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday with 23.
But the Mail wasn't in second place, strangely enough that 'honour' fell to the Guardian with 24 mentions.
But on closer inspection it wasn't so strange after all, for a little bit of investigation revealed that the first-ever mention of the term "Red Ed" could be found in the Guardian, more than a year ago.
On September 14, 2009 the paper's political correspondent Allegra Stratton wrote, " ...yesterday he (Ed Miliband) dismissed notions he was the union's "Red Ed"."
But what made her use that particular phrase? That was not too difficult to work out, for the phrase pops up at the end of a piece headlined "Mandelson sets out Labour's election line on spending cuts" and it is clear from reading the piece that Stratton has benefited from an eve of speech briefing either from the good Lord himself, or someone close to him.
The plot thickens (or does it clarify?) for the next media reference to "Red Ed" comes just ten days later in the magazine Prospect. Their diary reports that "The Copenhagen climate conference kicks off on 7th December, and the Brits are already limbering up. In August climate change minister and possible future Labour leader "Red Ed" Miliband launched eds-pledge.com, a website to 'campaign for a deal'."
Now where did that come from?
There's a great lull in "Red Ed" sightings for almost a year until the end of August this year when Fraser Nelson, writing in the News of the World, opines: "So he's become 'Red Ed', embracing every lefty cause going. Even pretending that he was against the Iraq war seven years ago." (Cerebral stuff, for an editor of The Spectator, eh?)
To save any further head-scratching about why this moniker suddenly reappeared, Nelson helpfully offers a clue, for later in the piece he reveals that he has been having off-the-record chats with supporters of David Miliband, he writes " As one of his supporters told me..."
Following Nelson, the floodgates open wide and a veritable tsunami of "Red Ed" mentions wash across the body politic. Even 'respectable' papers - and shamefully the broadcasters - join in; and not surprisingly virtually every hostile reference to "Red Ed" comes in an article in which it is clear that the journalist has been talking to supporters of David Miliband - though it is worth emphasising that there is absolutely no suggestion that these unfraternal whisperings had anything to do with the elder brother himself.
But none of this should be a surprise - we have been here before. In the 1980s the Tory press had a field day besmirching every Labour council with the tag "loony left". It was used with devastating effect by the Conservatives in the 1987 and 1992 elections, and they even tried it, without much conviction, in 1997.
But the real story of the tag "loony left" like "Red Ed" is that the Tories had a willing ally in the form of the Labour Party itself.
A few years ago, in a book that examined the relationship between the media and the Labour left, I revealed how it was New Labour that played a key role in sustaining the notion that anyone opposed to Blair was part of 'Old Labour' or worse, the "loony left".
And their reasoning was revealed by none other than Blair's polling guru Phillip Gould, who described how he argued that the 1989 Policy Review proposals which shifted Labour to the right, should not be introduced on a piecemeal basis, as was being mooted as a way of minimising opposition but to "...make one big-bang presentation... Dissent in these circumstances did not reduce our electoral appeal, but heightened it. It was evidence of change."
New Labour power-brokers were encouraging the media's perception that the "loony left" were still a potent threat, not because they believed it, but because they saw it as a useful tactic in order to achieve a Labour government.
It was a debateable, but nonetheless defensible stance to take. But 20 years later, to be suggesting that "Red Ed" and his supporters are about to take the party on a "lurch to the left" (another of those emotive phrases that is being bandied around), simply as a bitter reaction to defeat, is plain suicidal.
They should desist before further serious damage is done.
"Culture Wars: the Media and the British Left" by James Curran, Ivor Gaber and Julian Petley is published by Edinburgh University Press