Last week, the New Statesman published an article claiming that Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘inner circle’ was riven by divided opinions on key Corbyn allies, on Corbyn’s loyalty to his front bench and on the supposed question of whether we’ve reached ‘peak Corbyn’.
All of which is nonsense.
The article is supposedly based on the expressed frustrations of Corbyn’s ‘inner circle’ – but any informed reader would see very quickly that the source has a very different nature – and agenda.
For example, according to the article, the ‘inner circle’ source,
blames Corbyn’s loyalty to long-standing allies for the party’s underwhelming response to anti-Semitism among its rank and file.
Yet just a couple of weeks below, the party’s conference – full of ‘rank and file’ delegates elected by rank and file members – had voted overwhelmingly in favour of new rules to deal with antisemitism if and where it exists within the party. Nobody in the ‘LOTO’ (leader of the opposition) inner circle considers the party’s response ‘underwhelming’.
Similarly, the Statesman’s sources make a point of targeting John Trickett:
Some in the leaders’ office also worry that there is too much dead wood on the front bench, particularly at junior ministerial level. One shadow cabinet minister who is the target of particular ire is Jon Trickett, who was stripped of his responsibility for the election campaign, in favour of Andrew Gwynne and Ian Lavery, but retains his role as shadow lord president of the council.
Trickett, it is said, was no good as campaign co-ordinator, is not a reliable presence on television or radio, and acts as a bed-blocker to more talented and younger MPs with impeccable Corbynite credentials.
This is a dead giveaway. Until the General Election, there were more ‘beds’ than there were MPs to fill them. A month before the election, one MP told the SKWAWKBOX of the strains of having to wear three ‘hats’ – different front-bench briefs – because of the idiotic and petulant attitude of right-wingers among the ‘PLP’ (parliamentary Labour party).
The very idea of ‘bed-blocking’ is laughable – and a clear indicator that the ‘inner circle’ source is, in fact, someone on the outside of the inner circle and suffering from a serious case of relevance-envy.
As indeed it proved to be.
A very senior Labour source told the SKWAWKBOX:
The article was discussed at the weekly meeting. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s absolute s***e – the first we heard of it was the New Statesman article.
We know who the source is and it’s not LOTO. A better description would be a ‘hanger-on’.
Jon Trickett is an integral part of our team and his strategy very nearly took us to number 10. He is admired by everyone – especially Karie Murphy who is aggrieved over previous misreporting of an alleged and non-existent fallout.
His relationship with Ian Lavery and Andrew Gwynne is dynamic and inclusive – and he is and will continue to be one of Jeremy’s closest comrades.
But it’s not only Jeremy who thinks highly of him. He is fondly referred to by younger staff in the office as ‘Uncle Jon’.
The SKWAWKBOX knows who the ‘hanger-on’ is but has been asked not to reveal it yet.
The Statesman article also refers to Corbyn’s supposedly ‘excessive’ loyalty “MPs who stuck with him even during his most difficult period as leader”.
But this is nothing more than a naked pitch by the magazine’s source for greater relevance and influence. The same MPs who have stuck with Corbyn through the toughest times are among the top performers in Corbyn’s front-bench team and there is no queue of prime candidates ‘with impeccable Corbynite credential’ clamouring for front-bench spots.
Labour has, it’s true, some outstanding MPs in its new intake. However, the 2017 crop of MPs is still finding its feet and focused on getting to grips with the job. Laura Pidcock, for example, is seen as a rising star but told the SKWAWKBOX in August:
I feel need to get my own house together before thinking of a front-bench job. A lot of people have been there for a long time and get involved in all sorts, but I want to concentrate on creating an outstanding service for the people in my constituency – individuals and businesses. I’m not arrogant enough to think I can do it all and I have enough on my plate for the moment.
The Statesman article rounds off by summarising why it claims that the ‘inner circle’ is divided about whether we’ve reached ‘peak Corbyn’, saying of the supposed group of ‘pro-Corbyn pessimists’:
They believe that Corbyn, by refusing to reshuffle and bring in new faces, is only adding to their vulnerability should the Conservative Party pull itself together. Adding to their sense of unease is Labour’s failure to build a more commanding poll lead at a time when Theresa May is so weak and the Tories are so divided.
However, on top of the fact that the actual inner circle has no idea what the article is talking about, the article is already proving itself nonsense.
Four days after the Statesman article was published, new polling was published by Survation – the only polling company to predict the General Election result accurately.
Survation showed that Labour’s ‘poll lead’ has continued to go from strength to strength, with Labour increasing its lead by two whole points:
The information fed to the New Statesman by its source amounts to no more than a piece of desperate kite-flying by someone who appears to have a lot of soured personal ambition – and a particular axe to grind with Jon Trickett.
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