In the early hours of this morning, the SKWAWKBOX published an article based on conversations over several days with Labour General Secretary candidate Paul Hilder. The questions it covered were raised with Hilder after we obtained a copy of a memo he had sent to the Labour leadership late last year, which can be found as a PDF at the end of this article – but which includes a significant degree of overlap with the ‘manifesto’ he published via the New Statesman.
It’s safe to say that Hilder was less than happy with how he felt the article portrayed him. He put out a number of tweets about it this morning and also responded to a reader comment on the article (referencing Hilder’s connection with campaign group Avaaz). That comment can is visible on the original article, but is reproduced below in full, with comments by the SKWAWKBOX inserted in dark red. It may be an interesting conversation for readers to follow:
Are you part of this #FakeNewsNetwork which is seeking to shut down a fair contest too? In the middle of last week Steve Walker, the private contractor in the health industry who runs Skwawkbox, got hold of a copy of the confidential #DecemberMemo I wrote for @jeremycorbyn’s office in December. But the slanted hit job above doesn’t even reference, let alone publish, that memo. Perhaps because it’s too interesting?
Steve Walker is not in any sense a ‘private contractor in the health industry’, a fact which the S*n and Daily Mail had to acknowledge publicly after they falsely made the claim.
The reason the memo was not published with the article have primarily to do with the resulting unreadable length of the article and the fact that it was to have an article of its own.
Steve asked me lots of questions about the memo last Thursday; I answered most of them (and I gave him more comments which he hasn’t published, perhaps because they don’t fit his script). I thought he had enough to work with, but am happy to answer his other questions in this thread shortly. We’ll see if and how he incorporates my full comments and responses into the blog proper. Make your own minds up how straight a shooter he is.
A series of questions were sent to Mr Hilder and his responses (and a few non-responses) were published in full. Comments not in direct response to the questions arising from the memo were not included, to keep the article to a readable length. They may be included in a separate article.
Since Steve has failed to tell the full story, today I have now published my full #DecemberMemo on my own Medium here: https://medium.com/@paulhilder/my-confidential-decembermemo-for-jeremycorbyn-office-fakenewsnetwork-vs-gs4themany-1e89dd98477b
I had very positive meetings with Corbynite Party Chair Ian Lavery, Jeremy’s Director of Strategy & Communications Seumas Milne and others earlier this year to discuss how Labour can take its campaigning movement to the next level. However, despite multiple approaches, neither Karie Murphy (Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of staff and a former Unite official) nor Andrew Murray (the chief of staff at Unite and a notable Wizard of Oz) – both of whom are serious operators – responded in any way. It has been more than three months.
What is particularly interesting is that Steve Walker’s blog above also seems to me to include a subtle hint of a job offer…
The article’s concluding comments suggest that, based on his approach to the role and the application process, Mr Hilder might be better suited to a different role within the party. Jobs in the Labour Party are not remotely within the blog’s gift. If – as seems to be the case from his comments in his ‘Medium.com’ article – Mr Hilder is suggesting that we were in some way offering a ‘carrot’ on behalf of anyone in the party, this could not be further from the truth.
I do believe I can beat Jennie Formby, if no left woman who can command broader support in the NEC is allowed to come forward. This is a secret ballot, and people are restive about several troubling issues. But the critical question now is not which faction of the left can “dominate” power – I have had enough of factionalism, power plays and efforts at domination, and I hope many of you have too.
No suggestion of a ‘faction dominating power’ has been made in any SKWAWKBOX article on the General Secretary selection. However, it’s worth pointing out that the confusion created by Momentum founder Jon Lansman’s announcement – that he was standing to encourage other left women to stand – seems to be echoed in this comment. A left woman has applied for the role – why look to ‘beat Jennie Formby if no left woman’ comes forward?
Now that the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and the strength of the left are clear, there is a much more important question for us all to focus on. How can Labour improve on its impressive hung parliament performance to win a decisive majority in the next election — and win the battle of ideas to build a new common sense that replaces the era of Thatcherite disintegration?
While Steve has for some unknown reason remained silent on this point too, and continues to deny being briefed by any faction, I have been very clear from the beginning. What finally spurred me to change my mind and enter the contest was hearing that other left-wing women were being pressured not to throw their hats into the ring, so that a single candidate could be crowned. This is not how the Labour Party I believe in should behave. And it is not how the Labour Party will win the next general election.
The article included Mr Hilder’s comments – verbatim – on steps to be taken to promote a Labour victory in the next General Election. Several of the questions – and his corresponding answers – related directly to these.
I continue to encourage other women with strong left and democratic credentials to enter the contest, both publicly and privately. I hope other leaders, including Jeremy Corbyn, will join me in doing so in the next 36 hours before the application deadline. What is there to be afraid of? Shortlisting should begin on Wednesday. I understand that the NEC’s left caucus will then vote on which of the shortlisted candidates they will support (they have not yet done so, despite what I hear was a hamfisted effort to take them for granted).
I have also just launched a Change.org petition to the NEC Officers, calling on them to ensure trust in the process by shortlisting at least a few qualified candidates for General Secretary, and organising open live-streamed hustings debates to give members more insight and voice in this process (which however will properly be decided on by the full membership of the NEC; in closed session; and by secret ballot.) Click here and join me in signing this petition now! https://www.change.org/p/jeremy-corbyn-mp-hold-livestreamed-debates-with-a-wide-shortlist-of-candidates-for-labour-general-secretary
The petition is of interest, but – in this blog’s opinion – misplaced. A hustings event for an unelected position, when the hustings to the relevant electorate – the NEC – will take the form of candidate interviews? It would make fascinating viewing but could also be viewed as an attempt to manipulate or pressure those who will be making the choice. Few would blame Mr Hilder for trying to steer the process of selection in ways he clearly feels would benefit his application. However, that doesn’t mean the party or other candidates are obliged to acquiesce to his preference.
PS I fully expect more of the #FakeNewsNetwork trolls to come out and have a pop at me in this thread. Bring it on, gang. I won’t be spending all my time here, but I’ll check back in regularly and respond. The questions above about Avaaz are important ones, of course, which I’ll come back on soon.
Nothing published on this blog on the topic of the General Secretary position has been ‘fake news’, let alone ‘networked’. Readers will draw their own conclusions about the significance of resorting to the tactic of claiming otherwise on social media.
But the bigger questions are these: what the hell is going on with the appointment of the next General Secretary of the Labour Party; and is Jeremy Corbyn happy with what others are doing in his name?
No idea, since nothing has been published here ‘in his name’. Mr Hilder has referred again this morning to ‘briefings’ given to the SKWAWKBOX about the General Secretary contest. No such briefings have been given by any party. Contrary to the claims of some right-wing media and political figures, all involved with the SKWAWKBOX are capable of making our own assessments and drawing our own conclusions about issues and what to say about them.
In a separate response to a comment (admittedly not a positive one) about the photograph of Hilder included in the original article, Mr Hilder said:
Actually, this photo was chosen by Steve Walker, owner of Skwawkbox and private contractor in the health industry. It’s my least favourite photo of me. Interesting, that.
The image was chosen because it is available, copyright-free, under a ‘Creative Commons’ licence – which attribution is included in the image caption. We were unaware that Mr Hilder is not fond of it. It was taken at a Change.org conference in 2013.
Paul Hilder’s memo to the Labour leadership can be downloaded in full here. His interesting comments on the issue of Jewish Labour members suspended or expelled for alleged antisemitism can be found here.
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