Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party were under 2,500 votes (in the right constituencies) away from forming a government in the 2017 General Election. The leaking of the 851 page ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in Relation to Anti-Semitism, 2014 – 2019’ dossier on April 12 (which I received in full on the same day from a Labour Party source) proved that senior figures in Labour HQ, working alongside deputy leader Tom Watson, were actively undermining the party to prevent success in an election and topple Corbyn’s leadership (pp. 65-66).
The mainstream media, most notably the BBC, have given little coverage of the contents of the dossier (at the time of writing) despite overzealous reporting since 2015 on Corbyn’s inability to tackle anti-Semitism within his own party. The dossier proves that some complaints were ignored, delayed and exacerbated by staff at Labour HQ from 2015-2018, during Ian McNicol’s tenure as General Secretary, in order to harm the leadership.
While anti-Semitism is without doubt a cancer in society and in any political party, the British media including our public service broadcaster the BBC, made constant attacks on the leadership of Labour between 2015-2019. Accusations were rife that the party allowed a ‘culture of anti-Semitism’, despite evidence that anti-Semitism was no more rife in Labour than in any other political party and that Jeremy Corbyn and members of his political circle were life-long anti-racism campaigners.
This shocking and upsetting dossier proved that the ‘culture of anti-Semitism’ was allowed to grow by then General Secretary Ian McNicol to harm the leadership of the party and subsequently install Tom Watson as Interim leader (p. 31.). A notable instance is a quote by Emilie Oldknow, executive director for governance, membership and party services (and widely reported to be Keir Starmer’s choice for General Secretary to replace Jenny Formby) namely, that Tom Watson instructed his supporters on the NEC panel deciding whether Ken Livingstone would be suspended or expelled from the party on grounds of anti-Semitism — thereby bringing the party into disrepute — as follows:
‘to make a soft decision, all in order to embarrass JC (Jeremy Corbyn) and create a crisis.’ (p. 341.).
Watson would say after the decision however, that the failure to expel Ken Livingstone from the party ‘shames us all’.
It is also inferred in the document that Tom Watson’s office was behind the leaking of confidential party documents:
13/04/2017, 13:37 — Emilie Oldknow: ‘I think this needs to be cc’d to TW’
13/04/2017, 13:37 — Patrick Heneghan: ‘He will leak it’. (p. 65.)
The dossier also shows the redirection of funding towards right-wing Labour MPs’ constituencies (which benefited from the Corbyn surge regardless) away from the target seats which could have won Labour the election, in order to keep the PLP politically aligned and sympathetic to Labour HQ when installing the next Labour leader under a less democratic leadership election by scrapping the one member one vote system:
‘Tom Watson and Yvette Cooper. Other key figures from the right of the party in completely safe seats, such as Angela Eagle, Heidi Alexander, Chuka Umunna, Rachel Reeves, also received additional funding, as well as Facebook advertising’. (p. 93.).
‘On 28 February 2017 senior staff including Iain McNicol discussed using their
positions to delay the change to One Member One Vote (OMOV) which could widen
the franchise in Labour Party youth elections, apparently to advantage their favoured
faction: “Delay. Procrastinate. John Mann did 2 years as Nols Chair in 80s to keep Trots
at bay. Worked then”’ (p. 64).
Furthermore, the document shows detailed conversations between unelected officials in Labour’s governing body taking part in inappropriate text conversations (some including violent, racist and sexist imagery and undertones) regarding the leadership and left-wing Labour MPs and staff, such as Diane Abbott (p. 43) and Dawn Butler (p. 42):
15/05/2017, 22:29 — Greg Cook: ‘They look like they are busy on calculators … £49.5
billion, £49.6 billion. Oh no, we missed the cost of abolishing driver-only
trains … £80.5 billion …’
15/05/2017, 22:31 — Tracey Allen: ‘Diana Abbott school of calculus. They cannot cope
with this level of scrutiny and responsibility. Welcome to real politics!’. (p. 94)
As well as this Labour HQ purposefully chose not to investigate abuse directed at MPs on the left of the party, who were proven to have received the most abuse online in the period:
‘Rather than a general list of prominent MPs or MPs who had been particular targets of abuse, this was principally a list of MPs associated with the Labour right and/or the then move against Corbyn, such as the resignations from the shadow cabinet. It included:
– No MPs from the party’s left.
– No MPs who supported the 2016 Jeremy Corbyn campaign.
– Only one Asian MP, and no black MPs.
– Only three MPs in the shadow cabinet (one MP, from the right of the party, who
did not resign; one MP who had resigned, but would return a month later; and
deputy leader Tom Watson, who was a key supporter of Owen Smith).
– No other members of the Labour Shadow Cabinet, including the leader of the
party Jeremy Corbyn.
This was despite the fact that:
– There were high levels of online abuse directed at Jeremy Corbyn — who in the
2017 general election received more abuse on Twitter than any other
– There were disproportionate levels of abuse received by BAME, particularly
– There was a long history of abuse directed at Labour’s first black female MP,
Diane Abbott, who in the first half of 2017 would receive 7,000 abusive
messages on Twitter, almost half of all the abuse towards all women MPs
recorded on Twitter in this period’. (p. 130-131)
Keir Starmer has positioned himself as a unity candidate in the leadership election and his first real test as leader will be to deal with this. However, the mainstream media will certainly give him an easier ride than they would have to his predecessor. This dossier is proof that the ‘Labour Machine’ was actively working against Jeremy Corbyn and the electing of a Labour government to undermine the left-wing of the party for the foreseeable future and install a right-wing Labour Party leader.
Starmer will see a backlash from the left of the party over the contents of the dossier and will be under pressure to deal with the senior figures implicated, either removing them from the party or face a fall in members, funding and nationwide support. Furthermore, alongside an official inquiry into the contents, Starmer should also apologise to the thousands of Labour activists who volunteered their time to work tirelessly to elect a Labour government in the 2017 and 2019 elections while being constantly undermined by senior staff and the deputy leadership. The whistleblower who leaked the document should also be granted immunity from prosecution or further action by the party.
The leaked dossier cannot be published in full as it contains personal details of complainants and minors. A redacted copy will come out in due time for public viewing.