If you haven’t already seen the video of Labour leadership hopeful, Rebecca Long-Bailey, reminiscing about the time a centrist member of the shadow cabinet resigned suddenly in the middle of a finance committee meeting and then deleted all the contents of a shared drive in order to sabotage Labour’s contribution, then here it is folks. Apparently, this happened during the time of the Labour coup to oust Jeremy Corbyn back in 2016…
@RLong_Bailey on top form at Ronnie Campbell’s retirement do in Blyth with a powerful insight into her part in the Shadow Treasury operation during the mass resignation of Labour MP’s clearly shows how strong & able she is to lead in high-pressure situations like this#RLB4Leader pic.twitter.com/OFzNPBOkv4
— John R Taylor (@JOHNROYTAYLOR) January 27, 2020
Watching this video reminded me of another story that came to my attention in July 2017, not long after the general election. Spirits were high because, despite all the very public and often bitter wrangling within the Labour Party and the repeated attempts by Labour centrists to undermine and remove their own, twice elected, party leader, Labour still managed to give the Tories a bit of a thrashing. In fact the result was so close some expected another weeks campaigning could have tipped it in Labour’s favour.
Shortly after the election, on the 13th July 2017, the Jacobin.mag published an article by Frederick Cotton (a pseudonym used to protect the identity of the person behind the exposé), entitled “What could have been”. It was a damning review of the PLP campaign and it must have stung because, within 24hrs, the article had disappeared off the Jacobin.mag website. However, as luck would have it, I’d already read the article and even taken screenshots for reference.
‘Cotton’ was convinced Labour could have been in government were it not for “costly mistakes” made by “key players in the party”. He goes on to explain how there were 3 different campaigns in the Labour party – one being run out of the leader’s office, one run by the Labour Party and trade unions and one run by Momentum. He remarked how the Leadership campaign and the Momentum campaigns were highly effective but the Labour Party and trade union campaign, he said, was “shockingly terrible”….
He was particularly damning of “the directors of resources, Labour’s regional bureaucracies” who he explains had allocated an excessive amount of resources to safe seats and Progress candidates and chose to leave winnable marginals completely unsupported…
Cotton goes on to accuse the “deep Labour Party” of being “staggeringly incompetent”… hiring consultancy firms who think slogans like “For a richer Britain” would be more effective than “For the many, not the few” and so-called local “constituency champions” who, he feels, failed to detect “the largest shift in voting patterns since the war”.
Cotton accuses centrists of being “criminally unambitious” and wrong in assuming they know “who our voters are, where they are and how they’ll turn out”. This incompetence, he said, “cost the party enough seats to make the Tory-DUP deal viable” and gave us “the most right wing government in history”.
Cotton also references another view that there might potentially have been a more sinister motive. Perhaps there was a policy to only allocate resources to centrist MPs who could be relied apon to support another leadership coup?
In conclusion, Cotton makes a point of warning the Labour party that lessons have to be learnt and he warns ordinary Labour members that because there appears to be “little appetite to discuss these failings in the party” and because “the chances of anyone taking responsibility for them are slim” we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes at the next election.
Whoever this insider was, he or she appeared to have a lot of highly critical information to pass on to the membership and he/she warned us, back then, that if we allowed this to happen again at the next general election then the result would be “fatal”.
The fact that all debate on this issue was stifled from the moment this article was printed and the article itself was taken down within 24hrs so as to limit the exposure tells us, I think, that Labour centrists are far more interested in retaining control of the party than they are in winning elections. Of course, it also makes it a lot easier to point fingers at others – Corbyn, the wider Labour party membership – or suggest that it all boiled down to Labour’s position on Brexit.
Lessons must always be learned but when you’ve got people actively working to maintain the status quo, from within your own party, who appear to be far more interested in keeping themselves in employment than they do about getting Labour into government or dealing with life limiting policies and Dickensian levels of poverty in this country, then it’s time for the balance of power to change, dramatically!
Here’s some interesting data that the Labour centrists, the Conservatives and the right wing mainstream media would rather you didn’t know….
The Tory Vote share in the 2019 election was : 13,966,451
Labour’s Vote share in the 1997 election was : 13,551,381
Labour’s Vote share in the 2001 election was : 10,740,648
Labour’s Vote share in the 2005 election was : 9,566,618
Labour’s Vote share in the 2010 election was : 8,609,527
Labour’s Vote share in the 2015 election was : 9,347,273
Labour’s Vote share in the 2017 election was : 12,877,918
Labour’s Vote share in the 2019 election was : 10,269,076
Key things to take away from this…
1) Even if Labour had managed to hit the heady heights of the 1997 and 2001 election campaigns, we would still have lost the 2019 Brexit Election on vote share
2) Labour’s vote share in the 2019 election was still higher than they achieved in 2005, 2010, 2015 (under Blair, Brown and Miliband)
3) Labour’s vote share in 2017, despite the deliberately sabotaged campaign, was higher than the previous 4 elections, including two under Blair’s leadership.
Now consider where we might we have been today if the centrists hadn’t deliberately undermined the 2017 campaign. I think it’s safe to assume Labour would have been in government, we would have negotiated a closer alignment with the EU and perhaps already have delivered Brexit, we certainly wouldn’t have needed to call for another election in 2019 and the lives of millions of British people would have been transformed for the better. Knowing this, I can see why so many Labour members will find it impossible to forgive and forget but before you shout “what about party unity”, ask yourselves why the people calling for party unity are often the very same people who sabotaged both the 2017 and the 2019 Labour election campaigns?
Incidentally, there’s a little more to this story of the Jacobin.mag article that I haven’t told you. The day the article was taken down, I posted the screenshots to my personal facebook profile. When I went to log back to log into my account the following day, Facebook had deleted my entire profile, without warning or explanation. That was the first time they pulled that stunt but it certainly wouldn’t be the last time. In fact, they deleted my profile again recently, just shortly after the 2019 general election was called. Again, without warning or explanation, they decided to delete a perfectly innocuous personal profile. Of course, that personal profile was linked to the Spotlight Newspaper facebook page so when they deleted my profile they blocked me from being able to post to and admin my own facebook page. In fact, that experience was the trigger that motivated me to set up the Spotlight Newspaper website.