Labour’s Non-Existent ‘Infiltrators’

In what could be seen more as mockery than support, the Daily Telegraph (which had supported the Conservative Party “at every general election since 1945”) urged its readers to join Labour to vote for Corbyn (or, as they referred to him, a “bearded voter-repellent”).[1] On July 22, associate editor of The Spectator Toby Young spoke about his campaign to encourage Tories to vote for Corbyn in the Labour leadership elections, insisting that it was “unlikely that ‘Tories for Corbyn’ will have any influence over the result”. Arrogantly laughing Corbyn off as a joke candidate and advocating intervention as a means of simply annoying Labour members, he stressed that he expected only “a few hundred Tories” to bother to become registered supporters.[2]

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, meanwhile, adding left-wingers to the infiltration list as well, warned that both “the Trotskyite left and the Telegraph right” were trying to influence the leadership elections with “malign purposes”. In his words, “our ideas and ideals must appeal and prevail” (whilst not specifying who “our” referred to or why the views of Corbyn went against the ideals he had in mind).[3]

On August 10, the BBC reported on how the Labour Party was drawing up an “exclusion list” of people who had “stood against Labour in the past or helped others to oppose the party”. Those applying to vote in the leadership elections, the article stated, were having their “social media records checked, while local party hierarchies would look over lists to point out any prominent activists from their respective areas that may have signed up. “Without access to other parties’ membership lists”, however, it would be very difficult for the party to “know for certain the backgrounds of every new supporter”. With such seemingly-authoritarian measures being taken, it appeared that the Labour establishment was panicking to the extent of showing its true anti-democratic colours.[4]

A day later, the Independent spoke about how 1,200 people had been banned from participating in the leadership election: “214 people from the Green Party, 37 from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, 13 Tories, seven from UKIP and one from the BNP”. Considering that many members of the first two parties are people who used to vote Labour but became disenchanted by its shift to the right, it is hardly a surprise that they would seek to back Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to move the party back towards the left. Twenty-one voters from right-wing parties, meanwhile, could hardly be called ‘infiltration’ when hundreds of thousands of voters had signed up since Labour’s failure in the general elections. Perhaps more worrying for the credibility of the party was that Labour had asserted that “verification checks would continue even once votes had been cast”, with the “eligibility” of thousands being placed under review. The big problem, however, was that one key factor analysed in order to determine people’s ‘eligibility’ was the determination of whether they supported “the aims and values of the Labour Party” – an issue very open to subjective analysis.[5]

Of the banned voters mentioned about, the Mirror asserted, many had been “trapped after boasting on Facebook and Twitter about signing up to vote in the Labour contest”. Forty-eight “Newcastle-based Labour staff”, meanwhile, along with “30 in London”, were continuing to trawl “20,000 social media feeds for evidence so-called supporters back other parties” (or had backed them in the past).[6]

On August 12, it was revealed that the campaigns of the three non-Corbyn candidates had “sent a joint letter [to Labour HQ] alleging that unfair processing of affiliated supporters, drawn from trade unions, [was bringing] the integrity of the election into doubt” and supposedly “impeding a fair election”.[7]

Eleven days later, Betty Boothroyd (former “Speaker of the House of Commons” and “member of the investigating team who looked into infiltration of the party by the Militant organisation” in the 1980s) claimed Labour was “galloping towards the precipice”, insisting that “the hard left” was “deluding a new generation with the same claptrap that it took my generation to discard”. Continuing with her anti-democratic rant, she stressed that a possible Labour destruction in the future would be due to “its own foolishness and self-inflicted wounds”. In an incredibly divisive and derogatory way, she then spoke of how Labour’s “stables… may need cleaning again” (suggesting that the British Left was essentially horse excrement) to get rid of “a combination of far-left enemies, militant trade unions and first-time supporters” which was supporting Corbyn’s leadership campaign.[8]

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jul/16/corbyn-urges-labour-to-root-out-telegraph-readers-trying-to-skew-vote

[2] http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/07/why-i-was-right-to-vote-for-jeremy-corbyn/

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/01/jeremy-corbyn-pledges-role-blairites-shadow-cabinet?CMP=share_btn_fb

[4] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-33849773

[5] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-kicks-out-200-former-green-party-candidates-who-signed-up-to-vote-for-its-new-leader-10449980.html

[6] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/labour-big-beast-peter-hain-6234198

[7] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/08/burnham-cooper-and-kendall-issue-letter-labour-hq-raising-concerns-over-ballot

[8] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-leadership-jeremy-corbyn-accused-of-deluding-young-supporters-with-claptrap-10467916.html

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