Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Corbynista hit list

The civil war in the Labour party continues as Jeremy Corbyn's office issued a "hit list" of thirteen Labour MPS accused of abusing the Labour leader, and then apologised and said the list had been accidentally issued by a junior employee.

One of the MPs attacked was the Deputy Leader, two of the others were from West Cumbria - which will surprise nobody who has been paying the least attention to the war of words between the Labour leadership on the one hand and the MPs for Copeland and Barrow on the other.

Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn's campaign team issued a list of 13 Labour MPs, denouncing them for their "abuse" of the leader and his supporters.

The briefing cited Jess Phillips telling Diane Abbott to go forth and multiply, Tristram Hunt using a scatological metaphor to suggest Labour is in trouble, Tom Watson referring to Momentum as "a rabble" and John Woodcock calling a Corbyn PMQs performance a "disaster" with the f-word prefixed. (See a New Statesman report here for the exact quotes: bad language warning.)


Ian Austin, Neil Coyle, Ben Bradshaw, Frank Field, Anna Turley, Jamie Reed, Karl Turner, Stephen Kinnock and Tom Blenkinsop were also named in the list.

Ahead of last night's Sky News debate between Corbyn and Owen Smith, a Corbyn spokesman demanded that the challenger "condemn the abuse instigated by his high-profile supporters".

He said: "Owen Smith's campaign has become increasingly negative, focusing on attacking Jeremy Corbyn rather than presenting a positive vision for the party and country."

However, the attack had barely been made when the Corbynistas started to back-pedal. Sources close to the Corbyn campaign said that the list was issued by a junior member of the team and was not intended for official use.

A spokesman for Tom Watson said: "Tom Watson has received an apology from James Mills on behalf of the junior press officer in Jeremy Corbyn's campaign team who released this list by mistake."

A Labour MP named on the list said: "With one breath Jeremy calls for unity and for the party to come together and with the next they publish this anonymous hit-list. I think members will be really dismayed."

More details of the row here.

This is not the behaviour of a party which is in a position to form a government.

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