Labour Party split within between Corbynites and Blairites

Sequel to leakage of report on mystery of Corbyn’s defeat

Sankar Ray

Some senior party leaders and party bureaucrats conspired against the Labour Party prime ministerial candidate Jeremy Corbyn at the last parliamentary elections in 2017 and the humiliating defeat of the party, reveals an 860-page report which was leaked to the online newspaper Middle East Eye. It divulged extensive internal correspondence between senior party officials, engaged in ‘a years-long plot to destroy’ Corbyn who stepped down in December 2019. The report confirms long-held suspicions related to smear campaign of the erstwhile Labour Party leader’s anti-semitism that head office staff kept exploiting to undermine Corbyn who failed to sense the depth of hostility from party managers towards him. Party managers and a substantial section of the Labour parliamentary party have been nurturing a contempt for Corbyn since his victory in the leadership election in 2015. Those party bureaucrats and these officials and MPs were hankering for a return to the once-media-hyped golden era of Labour under Tony Blair who had reinvented the party two decades back as New Labour – embracing Thatcherite economics with an ostensibly ‘more caring face’.

Corbyn was slanderously projected as a ‘Soviet spy’, a tendentious campaign orchestrated in cahoots with one another by tabloid dailies like The Sun, Daily Mail etc. Corbyn apart, intelligence officials and researchers of the erstwhile East European countries rubbished them. Archives of ‘communist-era intelligence agency of Czechoslovakia termed those campaigns unfounded as no evidence endorses the perception that Jeremy Corbyn was ever a spy or agent of influence. Radek Schovánek, an analyst with the defence ministry of the Czech Republic, who did research on documents filed by the now-defunct spy service.

Actually, factionalism inside the Labour Party came into a head during the ascendancy of Corbyn. One of the architects of New Labour, Peter Mandelson, stated bluntly: “I work every single day in some small way to bring forward the end of his (Corbyn’s) tenure in office. Something, however small it may be – an email, a phone call or a meeting I convene – every day I try to do something to save the Labour Party from his leadership.” The Blairites discovered “a plethora of self-serving reasons – aggressively shared by the media – for arguing that Corbyn was unfit for office. Those ranged from his unkempt appearance to his opposition to Britain’s recent wars of aggression, resource grabs repackaged as ‘humanitarian interventions’ that had been a staple of the Blair years”.

The dossier exposed how the Blairites in charge of the party machine kept tirelessly undermining Corbyn, Correspondence between senior staff – including Labour’s then-general secretary, Iain McNicol – ‘show there was no let-up in efforts to subvert Corbyn’s campaign, even as the electoral tide turned in his favour Rather than celebrating the fact that the electorate appeared to be warming to Corbyn when he finally had a chance to get his message out – during the short period when the broadcast media were forced to provide more balance – Labour officials frantically sent messages to each other hoping he would still lose’. 

The saboteurs were not merely sniping from the sidelines.  Some very senior officials actively worked to sabotage the campaign. They set up a subterranean operation – the “key seats team” – in one of Labour’s offices, from which, reveals the document: “… a parallel general election campaign was run to support MPs associated with the right wing of the party”. Corbyn’s inner team failed to smell the rat even when it was refused key information, needed to direct the campaign effectively and was denied contact details for candidates. And many staff in HQ boasted that they spent the campaign ‘doing nothing or pretending to ‘tap tap busily’ at their computers while they plotted against Corbyn online.

Recently, two left-wing Labour MPs, John Trickett and Ian Lavery, confirmed that efforts to undermine the 2017 election campaign were sensed palpable at the time. They were denied by the conspiring officials the information and feedback they needed from doorstep activists. ‘We pour resources into seats with large Labour majorities which were never under threat, they observed. The two MPs report has made it clear that party managers did their best to ensure the party’s defeat and simultaneously shored up the majorities of Labour’s right-wing candidates as if voters had preferred them. These ‘plotters’ (coined by pro-Corbyn scribes have been working to pave the way for a Blairite takeover of the party immediately after the election was lost. They even chalked out a plan was to install one of their own, Tom Watson, Corbyn’s hostile deputy, as interim leader. However, they were stupefied and frustrated when the Labour Party did well in the by-elections. Subsequently, a general election was called.

The rest is history.

An internal crisis is ahead of the Labour. But the Blaitites have an edge on the accusation of anti-Semitism against Corbyn. The rebuttal remains relatively feeble. Anti-Corbyn faction claims that Labour has an anti-Semitism problem as “denialism”.

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May 24, 2020

Sankar Ray

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