How senior staff within the Labour Party betrayed their own.
The leaked internal report that emerged last week, which served as an annexe to the wide-scale investigation into the Labour Party’s approach to Antisemitism, has revealed how senior members at Labour’s Headquarters plotted against former leader Jeremy Corbyn to sabotage the 2017 general election and rid the party of Corbyn supporters. The report contains evidence of bullying, inciting threats of violence, and under-funding specific areas, mostly in the constituencies of pro-Corbyn candidates.
The subsequent, unredacted report was intended to be received by the NEC and EHRC in order to be added to the investigation into Labour’s handling of Antisemitism within the party. It was blocked by Labour Party lawyers, the reasons for which is not entirely clear. The incredibly damaging report has caused many members to leave the Labour Party out of disgust and disbelief at the hostility that members of Labour HQ exhibited towards their own party.
Obviously, hostility towards the Labour leadership from the moment that Corbyn was elected as leader in 2015 has been rife. However, no one had assumed that some of that hostility and sabotage was being conjured from within the party itself.
Indeed, the report reveals how senior staff attempted to sabotage the leadership election to withdraw Corbyn’s name from the ballot paper.
The report was commissioned by the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Jennie Formby, after she entered the role in 2018. Its intention was to highlight how the Labour leadership has been dealing with the allegations of Antisemitism within the party, dating from 2014 to 2019. The report itself found ‘no evidence’ that Labour staff had been either motivated by Antisemitism or treated any complaints regarding Antisemitism differently from other complaints. Whilst there have been legitimate allegations made concerning Anti-Semitic individuals within the party, these have been dealt with under the correct procedures.
The report does however reveal how some seniors staff members tried to delay the process by which Labour was combatting the Antisemitism allegations being sent their way. It is clear that some in senior roles at Labour HQ indeed wanted the leadership to drown in the surge of Antisemitism allegations that the mainstream media, other political parties, and other organisations were sending in, and indeed they were happy to facilitate it.
This facilitation forced Corbyn to concede more and more ground to pro-Israel groups, in hope that in doing so the attacks made against him and the party would cease. A life-long solidarity campaigner for Palestine, Corbyn has been relentlessly attacks by pro-Israel groups, heightened by the print media, since his ascension in 2015. This defamation project, which senior members of his own party conspired in, ultimately succeeded, with the 2019 general election defeat being largely due to the Antisemitism allegations.
Senior members of Labour HQ used the Antisemitism card to scare pro-Corbyn members into leaving the party and frightened the general electorate coincidently. There is no doubt that there have been real allegations made concerning Antisemitism within the Labour Party. However, these allegations would have been dealt with more swiftly and firmly if not for some senior members of Labour HQ, who deliberately chose to delay the process, as to facilitate for more allegations and criticism which would come to eventually destroy the Corbyn project.
Bullying and hatred.
In addition to the delaying of the Antisemitism investigation processes, senior officials have also been revealed to have bullied and incited threats of violence against other members of the Labour Party.
Within a WhatsApp group chat used by senior Labour HQ staff, Corbyn was regarded as a “fucking trot”, a “trot” meaning a Trotskyite (a supporter of the theories of Marxism interpreted by Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky). Other evidence shows how one official sent a message calling for Corbyn “to be taken out and shot”. Indeed, many supporters of Corbyn within the Labour Party were regarded by senior staff as “trots”.
Regardless of the observation that many senior staff members probably do not really know what a Trotskyite is and what Trotskyism actually means, these messages are clear evidence of a damning lack of support right at the heart of Labour HQ, where electoral campaigns are organised from and ran out of.
Moreover, there is evidence of staff leaking the whereabouts of senior members of leadership to journalists. In February 2017, Diane Abbott was found crying in the toilets of a café, following the racist abuse she had been receiving, to which Patrick Heneghan took it upon himself to leak her whereabouts to then Channel 4 journalist Michael Crick. Moreover, Sarah Mulholland, PLP secretary, said that Diane Abbott “literally makes me sick”. In addition, Greg Cook also commented that Abbott “is truly repulsive”.
This level of conspiratorial abuse from within the Labour Party is unprecedented. Senior staff were and arguably remain on the right-wing of the Labour Party and explain that they view anyone who is left of former PM Gordon Brown a “trot”. However, the level of abuse that both Corbyn and Abbott, among many others, received from staff at Labour HQ is just one example of how they were attempting to oust Corbyn and his supporters from the onset.
The report also provides evidence of how senior staff sabotaged Labour’s campaign at the 2017 general election. In hindsight, Labour needed 2,500 votes to form a majority in 2017 but were curtailed by their own party and so failed to do so. The result was a weak Conservative majority under the equally weak Theresa May.
The leaked documents show that Senior staff secretly budgeted $280,000 for ‘secret key seats’ to utilise in the 2017 election, all of which were anti-Corbyn seats. In addition, HQ officials were also documented to have funnelled money out of pro-Corbyn seats and marginal constituencies, and into the seats of ‘moderates’ and candidates who were already showing signs of sound majorities in their area.
This level of frank betrayal towards their own party has never been seen, or indeed uncovered before. Corbyn and Labour were so close to being able to form a government in 2017, which would be three years into its term by now. John McDonnell, in an interview with Novara Media, stated that if Labour had not been sabotaged in 2017 and therefore formed a government, then they would have been able to tackle the current COVID-19 outbreak far better than Boris Johnson’s government is currently. McDonnell gives three main things that a Labour government would have done which would have made the country more prepared for a pandemic like COVID-19:
1. Immediately fully fund the NHS.
2. Allow the pay rise for nurses and social care workers to be passed, which was incidentally blocked by the Tories when put to parliament.
3. Fully funded the social care sector.
Nevertheless, the chances to do act on these words were stifled not by the Tories or the media, but by McDonnell’s own party.
The detailed and lengthy leaked document (over 800 pages in length) reveals many things, some of which many suspected but didn’t know for sure; others which no one could have seen coming. Corbyn’s newly elected successor, Sir Kier Starmer, has immediately called for an independent investigation to be commissioned surrounding the findings of this report, and the way that it was leaked in unredacted form to the wider public. The subsequent investigation needs to be detailed in depth, and strict in the expulsion of those guilty of electoral sabotage and abuse towards fellow colleagues.
Currently, Labour is facing financial problems after some of the people mentioned in this damaging report have drawn up legal action against the party. Some cite violations of the Data Protection Act, invasion of privacy and libel and reasons for doing so. Regardless of this legal bombardment, Starmer is determined to investigate this report and act upon its findings.
The past five years have made it clear that the Labour Party is a broad church; divided on many issues. However, the revelations made in this report demonstrate how the divisions were much deeper than anyone imagined. Moreover, it reveals the malice of certain people who claimed loyalty to and solidarity with the Labour party. Their betrayal cost Labour the first potential election victory in a decade.
Whatever the report reveals, the consequences should come swift and severe. Otherwise, more members will leave, and the Labour Party may come to face its own demise in the short years to come.
(Note: The person who leaked the dossier, as of the time this article is published, is unknown.)