Yesterday saw the weird spectacle of the Mail Online publishing an ardent defence of Labour politicians – but only as a vehicle to attack the party and its leader, of course.
The attack piece begins by praising a deselected Birmingham councillor – “cut [him] and he’d bleed Labour” – and talking up his ‘loyalty’ and work ethic, but quickly switches to its real point: regurgitating the nonsensical line that the “neo-Marxist Praetorian Guard” Momentum is ‘taking control’ of Labour via ‘intimidation, thuggery and infiltration’.
So far, so yawn.
What this translates to, of course, is that Labour members who are unhappy with the performance and/or integrity of their councillors or local party officers and are selecting people they think will be better.
In other words, democracy – but of course that doesn’t suit the latest attack-narrative the Establishment is trying against Labour’s member majority and the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
But the article over-reaches. In its eagerness to tar Corbyn’s supporters, it exposes its own nonsense.
First, it seems the Mail couldn’t resist levering in a little terrorism smear:
The paragraph is slippery, worded to not-quite-say that Noor is a left-wing candidate, but readers are clearly meant to assume she is – but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Safia Noor is indeed a candidate after selections have been completed (what the Mail calls ‘post-purge’) – but her referees on her candidate’s application were:
- a right-wing MP who supported Yvette Cooper in the 2015 leadership contest, resigned as soon as Corbyn won and went to the press in 2016 to call on Corbyn to resign
- a right-wing councillor
She is said to have supported by Tom Watson and vehemently anti-Corbyn MP John Spellar – who admitted to using ‘Momentum’ as an insult.
She is also said to be close to Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips – who infamously said she’d ‘knife Corbyn in the front’:
Not only that, but Ms Noor is said to have displaced a sitting pro-Corbyn councillor in the selection battle.
In its eagerness to squeeze in that ISIS-link, the Mail exposed the fallacy of its argument – but Ms Noor is not the only example of right-wing candidates being selected as Birmingham council.
Sundip Meghani has been selected for the Harborne ward contest, yet has been supported by one of the most extreme anti-Corbyn MPs – Iain Austin, who was called ‘thuggish‘ by a fellow MP for heckling his own party leader in the House of Commons:
But it’s not only his supporters who are ardently anti-Corbyn. Meghani himself has not been shy about his own opposition:
If Momentum is conducting a ‘purge’, it’s not very thorough. In fact it looks like, well – democracy. Some you win, some you lose.
Finally, the Mail screws up in its selection of supposedly purged councillors in its main case-study area of Birmingham – because most of them have been selected, not ‘purged‘. The Mail states:
But the actual events differ somewhat from the Mail’s version:
- Barry Bowles has been selected for a different ward
- Kerry Jenkins has been selected for a different ward
- Habib Rehman was defeated by his own cousin – both are long-serving councillors
- Rehman and Jenkins have both been Corbyn supporters from the beginning, so their failure in their unsuccessful bids to be selected has nothing to do with any ‘Momentum purge’
The Establishment and its right-wing attack dogs have only one goal – they’ve even admitted it: stop Corbyn.
But when they throw mud, the clues to its lack of substance are there if you look carefully.
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