It’s been quite a year. At the beginning of 2017, the SKWAWKBOX was a relatively unknown publication that had made enough splashes since its reboot in late summer 2016 to be listed as ‘one to watch’ for the new year.
By the end of 2017, it had one of the highest profiles among the ‘new left media’ (NLM), was one of the most often maligned – and copied – by the mainstream media (MSM) and had featured on the front pages of most MSM papers, as well as frequently on the BBC and other channels and was described, inaccurately, as ‘the unofficial organ of the Labour leader’s office.
2017 saw a seismic shift in the political landscape and Labour now stands on the cusp of an historic victory that will herald a new direction not seen since 1945. Skwawkbox has been there every step of the way.
Skwawkbox has been an essential compendium for anyone interested in the Labour Party’s policy direction. It has regularly broken news about Labour’s internal machinations as the party transitions from more than two decades of the discredited New Labour era to the progressive socialist future yearned for by hundreds of thousands of members and millions of supporters.
Skwawkbox champions the democratic rights of grassroots party members and will play an increasingly important role in 2018 as the public are increasingly inspired by the policy agenda articulated by Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour Shadow Cabinet minister Chris Williamson
The cost of this success has been to be under almost-constant attack by the Establishment, which simultaneously tries to dismiss the SKWAWKBOX as ‘fake news’ while expending huge amounts of time on trying to discredit it – and while the Establishment press uses huge amounts of our information when it suits them.
As the saying goes, it took a long time to become an overnight success. This blog started in 2012, examining the Tories’ mistreatment of the NHS, but also, very soon after its creation, predicting the ‘Corbyn surge’ – and the resistance that would accompany it – long before we’d really heard of Jeremy Corbyn. When the MSM tries to tell you that nobody saw it coming, it’s not true.
Our review of the year may give you some idea why, as we recap some of this blog’s major exclusives, its biggest impacts, some of the attacks on it and some of the feedback from supporters and those it has helped.
The SKWAWKBOX has had a direct, material impact on the UK’s political landscape and the direction of the Labour party on a number of occasions. Two of those we’re proudest of both played a part in the success of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn that shook the Establishment to its foundations this year.
Nuttall in Stoke
When two by-elections were set to take place on the same day in March, the common consensus was that the loss of both for Labour – then trailing hugely in the polls – would be used as the trigger another leadership challenge and could threaten ‘the project’.
Many Corbyn supporters felt that the party’s bureaucracy and many Labour MPs were actively trying to bring about that situation. Labour looked weak in Copeland and the media were talking up then-UKIP leader Paul Nuttall’s chances in deeply pro-Brexit Stoke.
The SKWAWKBOX’s exclusive on Nuttall’s conflicting claims regarding his experiences during the Hillsborough disaster set in motion a chain of escalating coverage in the MSM – and further SKWAWKBOX exposés – that led to Nuttall becoming a byword for exaggerated claims and the subject of derisive hashtags on social media.
Labour lost in Copeland but beat UKIP by just over 2,500 votes in Stoke. Labour insiders have stated that this blog played a significant and perhaps decisive role in that Labour victory – and in the resulting absence of a fresh leadership challenge.
Corbyn continued unchallenged in the role – and the Corbyn surge in the General Election that was announced a short time later is now a matter of historical record.
Unite leadership contest
The contest for the leadership of the UK’s biggest union, triggered by Len McCluskey’s decision to call an early election for the position of General Secretary, was widely considered to be vital for Corbyn’s leadership and the direction of the Labour Party.
McCluskey is a staunch Corbyn supporter and Unite’s representatives on Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) back the Labour leader. The right, eager to choke Corbyn’s leadership in what they termed ‘Project Anaconda’, wanted to change that – and put up their own candidate to challenge McCluskey: Gerard Coyne.
Coyne fought a low campaign, smearing McCluskey and Labour. This was likely to leader to a low turnout in the election, with disillusioned members less likely to vote – and this was expected to favour the challenger.
The SKWAWKBOX exclusively exposed Coyne’s use in the campaign of Labour member data to which he had no legal entitlement under the Data Protection Act (DPA). Coyne later admitted, live on national radio, using Labour Party data, which he tried to justify by claimed it had been ‘agreed’ – an impossibility under the DPA, as every individual member would have needed to give specific permission for their information to be used.
The story rolled on, leading to further resignations and ultimately, once voting had closed, to Coyne’s suspension and dismissal.
McCluskey won the election by just five percent on a low turnout. Unite insiders have said that the DPA exposés played a significant role in securing the win.
The SKWAWKBOX was the first outlet to highlight right-wing attempts and methods to try to stack the delegate count at the 2017 annual Labour conference – the right’s success in doing so in 2016 led to serious and anti-democratic setbacks for the left, with the addition of unelected additional members to the NEC to stack it against Corbyn.
The exposure of the attempts and the likely consequences of their success raised awareness and formed part of ultimately successful efforts by Momentum and others that made the Brighton conference such a triumph for Corbyn and his supporters, with the vast majority of delegates behind him to enable the Labour leader to initiate an ambitious set of reforms.
The SKWAWKBOX was also instrumental – along with a team of dedicated activists – in publicising and then overturning a ban on legitimate, pro-Corbyn conference delegates.
The Birmingham bin strike was a long-running and exhausting battle by workers and their union to prevent job losses and pay-cuts. The SKWAWKBOX’s exclusive revelation of emails showing the council had agreed a deal with Unite and then tried to go back on it led to the resignation of the council’s leader – and ultimately to a huge victory for the mistreated workers, who secured their grades and pay and thanked this blog for giving them a voice when nobody was listening and the MSM were portraying the strike as the result of unreasonable behaviour by staff and unions.
Forcing the MSM to correct
A SKWAWKBOX article exposing the BBC’s use of the wrong footage when showing Corbyn’s response to Philip Hammond’s budget last month forced the BBC to issue a correction. The SKWAWKBOX also forced the Murdoch S*n to publish a retraction of false claims about this blog – which made a mockery of tame, MSM-run ‘regulator’ IPSO’s later decision to reject the complaint.
Local Labour parties
The SKWAWKBOX uncovered misdeeds and manoeuvres by the Labour right around the country, as it attempted to retain control of local constituency parties and council selections. On the back of raised awareness and understanding, left-wing members have achieved change in many parts of the country.
Setting the narrative
The SKWAWKBOX’s exclusives, interviews and inside information set or changed the narrative on numerous occasions, from being one of the earliest to identify the beginnings of the ‘Corbyn surge’ during the General Election, to highlighting Corbyn’s intelligent handling of a tricky Brexit ‘hand’, exposing the Tories’ incompetence, their weakening of security and breaches of law around the terrorism incidents in London and Manchester.
Some of these exposés put the Tories on the back foot, protected Corbyn’s leadership or maintained momentum during the election campaign; some let sunlight wither anti-Corbyn manoeuvres by right-wing MPs and others.
The SKWAWKBOX has published a large number of exclusives throughout the year, keeping Labour members and the public aware of things that the MSM were not telling them. Some of those concerned the Tories and some the ‘enemy within’ Labour attempting to undermine the party’s leader and members.
Here is a small selection of some of the most significant:
Laura Pidcock interview
The interview, in which Ms Pidcock made clear that she had no intention of being cosy with MPs of the party that is inflicting suffering and death on her constituents, became huge news – picked up by all the UK’s mainstream media and by many around the world.
It also triggered a series of attacks on the newly-elected Labour MP by Establishment figures keen to protect their ‘clubby’ status quo – and the controversy rolled on for months but rallied Labour supporters in support of Labour MPs differentiating themselves from ‘the enemy’.
In spite of attempts by opponents of this blog – and the pseudo-regulator IPSO – to misrepresent the SKWAWKBOX as fake news, we released information and images to the public that Grenfell resident were eager to expose and that the MSM were ignoring. The information included the news that armed police were deployed in the area to police grieving residents and neighbours; that vital gas shut-off valves in the tower were concreted over – and that a ‘Gold Command’ representative had been on site posing as a volunteer from day one of the disaster, days before they were officially called in.
Thank you @skwawkbox your constant and unwavering support to us is appreciated 🙏🏿💚💚❤️💚I’d also like to recognise the families from the Walk who have also been displaced by this tragedy. Unfortunately I don’t have these figures to add. #unitedforgrenfell #solidarity #truth https://t.co/FLri8Lyo3j
— Grenfell Tower 💚 (@Still_I_Rise_GT) December 24, 2017
The IRA smear
During the General Election campaign, frequent attempts were made to smear Corbyn as a ‘friend of terrorists’. They were complete misrepresentations – but the SKWAWKBOX revealed that Corbyn had spoken to republicans and unionists at the specific request of then-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam and was highly regarded by both sides for his integrity.
Eddie Izzard interview
The famous comedian, standing for election to Labour’s NEC, spoke exclusively to the SKWAWKBOX about his reasons for standing, what he hoped to achieve and his view – or lack of it – on some of the hot topics of concern to Labour members. It allowed those members a clear view of what they’d be voting for if they supported Izzard’s candidacy. The SKWAWKBOX supports the ‘grassroots left’ slate of Garnham, Dar and Lansman.
When Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins faced accusations of inappropriate behaviour, the MSN were keen to assume their truth without serious examination of the claims and evidence. The SKWAWKBOX was the first – and almost only – outlet to publish his formal statement in full, without editing or interpretation.
This blog also exclusively published his response to further allegations by Bristol MP Kerry McCarthy.
In addition to the above, the SKWAWKBOX exposed the anti-democratic behaviour of a number of Labour MPs and officials. One told Buzzfeed that he and other right-wing Labour MPs could no longer use the S*n, Mail and other right-wing newspapers to publish their (inevitably anti-Corbyn) opinions because of the SKWAWKBOX and other NLM outlets.
And the rest
The above examples are just a tiny subset of the SKWAWKBOX’s output and impact. Over the year, we published almost 1,500 articles, reached large numbers of people and upset a lot of right-wingers.
All of this was done free of charge – no fees, no advertising, no outside funding – to ensure the information could reach as many people as possible and to avoid compromise on the blog’s independence.
If you have been one of the people who have supported us throughout the year, whether financially, by sharing our information on social media or by sending us information leading to new exposés, we appreciate you enormously and thank you sincerely.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
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