James Bickerton writes for the right-wing site ‘Backbencher’ and occasionally for CapX, the right-wing site owned by the right-wing think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies, which is of interest primarily for an article published in the wake of last year’s General Election that gave away the reeling Tories’ desperation at the rise of Corbyn.
The right-wing media has of course been showing some desperation recently in its attempts to smear Jeremy Corbyn, as amply demonstrated by the recent, shameful episodes over Czech smears, which ended particularly badly for Tory vice-Chair Ben Bradley – although he did at least gain the kudos of putting out the most shared Tory tweet so far in 2018 by a distance (and almost matched Donald Trump’s most popular).
The same media are also eager to portray Labour’s relationship with the unions – and in particular Unite – in a negative light, especially now that Unite’s Jennie Formby is the favourite to replace Iain McNicol as the party’s General Secretary.
This morning, Bickerton put out a tweet that seemed to tick both boxes – accusing Jeremy Corbyn of cronyism on the basis that he ’employed’ the daughter of Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey:
A Twitter respondent was quick to point out that there were some slight problems with the claim – which Mr Bickerton initially disputed:
When more information was provided, Bickerton still argued:
His interlocutor laid it on a plate for him:
The penny dropped:
The correction still tried to maintain the original point:
But even that was a stretch – as Bickerton himself felt compelled to point out in a separate tweet shortly afterward:
But that’s not the end of the sad tale.
Ms Murray actually worked for the excellent Grahame Morris, who was then on the Labour front bench. We called him to ask whether there was any substance to the allegation.
Mr Morris told the SKWAWKBOX:
Jeremy had nothing at all to do with me hiring Laura.
At the time of the ‘coup’ I had to run the Shadow Communities and Local Government and the Housing teams with only one Shadow Minister – Teresa Pearce.
Due to delays and obstructions from Labour HQ, I couldn’t even recruit any of the policy advisers I was entitled to as a Shadow Cabinet member.
Laura initially worked without pay to provide briefings and policy advice for me, as did [now MP] Chris Williamson – and I relied on ordinary Labour Party members to provide me with questions and debates.
Not only was Laura Murray only a part of Corbyn’s ‘Commons team’ by ‘quite a broad definition’, but Corbyn had nothing to do with her hiring by Grahame Morris – which only took a phone-call to check – and she initially worked for free to help out Morris when he was running two Shadow departments with no support from Labour’s right-leaning HQ.
Less ‘cronyism’, more ‘all willing hands to the pumps’ – with Ms Murray eventually kept on because she’d proven her ability and commitment in an emergency.
All that from a quick phone-call, which the Daily Mail appears either not to have done or to have omitted mentioning in its article. Bickerton used two-year-old inaccurate news from the Daily Mail to claim Corbyn was hypocritical – “Do as I say not as I do”.
If the SKWAWKBOX had published anything that shoddy, it would end up as front-page accusations of fake news.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Mr Bickerton for comment. He responded:
The McCluskey tweet was an early morning (for me anyway) f**k up where I got Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey mixed up with Andrew Murray, his chief of staff. As soon as it was pointed out to me I deleted the tweet, and replaced it with one about Andrew Murray.
For the Graham Morris thing ‘this is a complete non-story as I never alleged Andrew Murray played any role in his daughters appointment by Graham Morris. It does sound an awful lot like, or be it on a much smaller scale, the kind of socio-political system that corbynites spend so much time criticising’
I certainly never alleged that corbyn played any direct role in the appointment of Andrew Murray’s daughter. The ‘do as I say’ quote was more of a general point about what I see as hard-left hypocrisy.
Of course, once the actual circumstances were uncovered by means of a call to Grahame Morris, Mr Bickerton’s assumptions can be seen to be unfounded. His tweets, which he described as ‘more of a general point’, only mentioned Jeremy Corbyn – apart from the union figures whose children, real or otherwise, were supposedly employed via ‘hard-left hypocrisy’.
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.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.