Following last week’s by-election results and the growing doubts over the legality and validity of the result in the Cumbrian seat of Copeland, in today’s volatile political climate it was only a matter of time before controversy exploded around the Stoke Central campaign, which was won convincingly by Labour.
Activists on the left of the party, many of whom worked tirelessly for Labour candidate – and now MP – Gareth Snell, have been convinced ever since both contests were triggered by resigning right-wing Labour MPs that the right-wing faction of the party was actively looking for Labour to lose both seats as a platform for a fresh assault on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Some in the media didn’t even try to be subtle about it:
Indeed, even after Labour won one seat and lost (perhaps) the other, opportunist attempts to undermine Corbyn have been shameless.
But at least one member of the party’s right-wing ‘cuckoos in the nest’ is alleged to have been actively working against a Labour victory.
Paul Farrelly is Labour MP for the Staffordshire constituency of Newcastle under Lyme, adjacent to Stoke. Although 63% of his constituents voted to leave the EU, he was one of the Labour MPs who voted against the recent Article 50 bill at all stages.
Farrelly has also written more than once for arch-Blairite organisation Progress and has even advertised there for his constituency staff. He was also the editor of Hammer of the Left, a book glorifying the triumph of right-wing Labour over left-wing figures such as Tony Benn. So it’s safe to say he is anything but a fan of Jeremy Corbyn.
It appears he is also no fan of Labour by-election victories, if he thinks defeat will get rid of the Labour leader.
During the selection process for the Stoke Central candidate, Farrelly sent the text message below to members and councillors in Stoke Central Labour when he was unable to reach them by phone in what is alleged to have been an extensive ‘whispering campaign’ against the eventually-successful candidate. The recipient’s details have been removed, but several people received the same message and confirm that it came from Farrelly’s mobile:
The campaign appears not to have stopped after Snell won selection as the party’s candidate, as the following is alleged by local members:
- that Farrelly persuaded one of the area’s biggest Labour donors not to support the by-election campaign. The person in question did later support it, after being made aware of what was going on, but the intent was there to undermine Labour’s chances of winning what was, at that time, expected to be a very tight contest
- that Farrelly then phoned around other Labour MPs telling them that Snell was a ‘misogynist bully‘, that Stoke Central was a lost cause and that they should avoid being associated with a disastrous loss, in an attempt to discourage MPs from visiting the area to help with the campaign
- that Farrelly persisted in voting against the Article 50 bill earlier this month, despite knowing that a large majority of his constituents wanted the opposite – and even though his own majority in Newcastle under Lyme is very slim – in order to turn local people against Labour before the by-election
If these allegations are true – and the text is substantial evidence – then a right-wing, Progress-supporting, anti-Corbyn Labour MP took direct, concrete action to try to cause the party to lose a vital by-election. Other Progress-allied MPs and supporters did so less directly, but no less purposefully.
And the right-wingers like to claim they’re the ones who want Labour in government. Yeah, right.
If true, the allegations also mean that among the MPs who stood to applaud Gareth Snell for ‘his’ victory at the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) meeting on Monday evening – many of whom would, of course, dismiss the importance of the huge online and offline efforts of Corbyn supporters and the impact of Corbyn’s authenticity, intelligence and policies on the result – was at least one person who had tried to prevent it.
Thereby giving UKIP a parliamentary victory, as everyone would have expected at the time of the alleged actions – unconscionable for any real Labour member, supporter or MP.
The Labour party must investigate this urgently and, should due process find that he did as alleged, he must be expelled from the party in disgrace – and Progress and other right-wing infiltrator groups must be proscribed, outlawed for the anti-democratic saboteurs they are.
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