Oh Jeremy Corbyn

Oh Jeremy Corbyn

In the past week there’s been some astonishing revelations about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, some of which I covered last week, but for me the most fascinating was this revelation by The HuffPost’s revelations that

Jeremy Corbyn’s office ordered that a raft of “moderate” Labour MPs should be stripped of extra campaign funding in the 2017 general election, a senior former party official has revealed.

Patrick Heneghan, who was executive director for elections and campaigns, said that he was asked to withdraw top-up spending earmarked for deputy Tom Watson, Yvette Cooper, Rachel Reeves and a string of other MPs seen as critical of his leadership.

The 14-strong “hitlist” – seen by HuffPost UK – also included current shadow cabinet ministers Kate Green and Bridget Phillipson, Tony Blair’s successor Phil Wilson, ex-minister Caroline Flint and former leadership hopefuls Dan Jarvis and Angela Eagle.

Heneghan was instead given an alternative list of MPs who should benefit from special central campaigns cash, including close Corbyn allies John McDonnell, Ian Lavery, Andy McDonald, Jon Trickett and veteran leftwinger Paul Flynn.

Seats like Lavery’s and Trickett’s had majorities of more than 10,000, as did many of those held by “Corbynsceptics” such as Watson, Reeves and Jarvis. Many of the constituencies held by both factions had large numbers of Brexit-backing Labour voters who distrusted Corbyn.

In his submission to a party inquiry into alleged “sabotage” of Corbyn’s leadership, the former elections chief admits that he defied the order to axe funds from the prominent MPs.

He further confirms that and other officials used a secret unit to keep cash and campaigns material going into the seats that internal polling suggested were at risk.

Heneghan defended the move because it was legally authorised by general secretary Iain McNicol, and said that other seats helped by the secret unit – Ashfield, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Barrow, Bishop Auckland and Dudley North – narrowly avoided falling to the Tories.

Corbyn supporters insist that the creation of a secret campaign unit without the knowledge of the leader is clear proof of disloyalty by senior staff.

They argue that many of the “moderates” had big majorities that got even bigger in 2017 after the Labour leader defied the early polls and denied Theresa May her majority.

They also argue that Labour could have won the election if it had put more effort into taking Tory seats than defending its own. Among the seats where more cash was requested by Corbyn’s team were Gower and Derby North, which the party went on to take from the Conservatives.

But Heneghan insisted that the 2019 election – which saw the loss of safe seats like Watson’s West Bromwich East, Wilson’s Sedgefield and Flint’s Don Valley – proved the need to try and protect such constituencies two years earlier.

The former party official will be a key witness to the independent inquiry by Martin Forde QC into a leaked dossier on the party’s anti-Semitism row that included claims senior HQ staff actively sought to undermine Corbyn.

..Heneghan is one of several former officials who are suing the party for libel and data breaches over the leaked anti-Semitism report, claiming that it selectively quoted private WhatsApp groups out of context and sought to blame them for the 2017 failure to get Corbyn into No.10.

I can understand the fury of the Corbynites in this but it also reflects poorly on Corbyn that his petulant childlike reactions of pulling support from his critics and towards his supporters ultimately damaged Labour, this is the sort of behaviour you’d expect from Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.

If Corbyn had a thicker skin and been more collegiate then he may well have been Prime Minister after the 2017 election which may have been greatest comeback since Lazarus considering the polls shortly after Mrs May called the election indicated a 25% Tory lead whilst internal Tory polling had the Tories on course for a majority of 294.

But Corbyn’s temperament and ego undoubtedly helped Boris Johnson win his majority and the type of long term Brexit we obtain. Corbyn’s past behaviour helped Brexit happen, but that was the amuse-gueule the cherry on the parfait was

As part of a 60-page submission to the Forde inquiry, supported by 100 documents, Heneghan also revealed that during his stint leading the People’s Vote campaign he had approached Corbyn’s office in the 2019 election campaign with an offer to work with the Liberal Democrats.

Heneghan suggested that he had feedback from the Lib Dems that they and Labour could agree not to stand against each other in 50 seats, a move aimed at depriving Boris Johnson of a majority.

However, when he made the suggestion, a key member of Corbyn’s office replied with a blunt message: “We don’t do deals with the Lib Dems. If people are so desperate to stay in the EU rather than have a socialist government that’s their choice.”

When the final word is written on Brexit Corbyn’s contribution will not be forgotten.


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