Hilder responds to SKWAWKBOX ‘hit job’ on his ‘manifesto’

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.

hilder reac.png

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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  1. Oh dear :0( It’s a job. The NEC will interview and select? I read a number of left wing blogs and do sometimes disagree with a particular position etc. But this blog has seemed to me to be accurate. I can, though, form my own opinions re these things. I suspect that Jennie will get the job because she is a woman. However I’m a member of Unite in her area and think she’s great. I don’t want to have to vote on this or get too involved. I want the NEC to be working with the employee they select.

  2. When you two have finished with the “oh, no he didn’t”, “oh, yes he did” routine can we get back to the more serious issue of ‘getting the word out on essential issues’? Granted, though, this unseemly row is proof enough of Mr Hilder’s unsuitability for the role of GS.

  3. Paul Hilden sounds completely unhinged.

    He has put himself forward for the Labour Party GS role on a largely digital platform and the first thing he does is attack the NLM using false right wing talking points.

    At first I thought his comments were made by someone who set up an account pretending to be Paul Hilen, just for a laugh. But it is actually him!

    What an embarrassed, what a douche.

    Stick a fork in him, he’s done.

    Paul, you are making a total fool of yourself. Bail out before you damage your credibility beyond repair.

  4. Not quite sure what Mr Hilder’s problem is, thought your article was fair and based on how Skwawkbox saw things. Is, Mr Hilder insinuating people aren’t capable of making their own assessment on what they read and hear after everything that’s happened and think we’re stupid? Don’t rate his chances.

    1. Excellent point. Seems reasonable to assume that Hilder’s unhappiness here is rooted in a belief in what is published is then unthinkingly slurped up and believed by us minions – or, in the Labour Party context, classic Blairite thinking.

  5. Eh?

    Rehashing the same BS about being a private NHS contractor as the currant bun & heil had to put straight?

    Job offers? Least favourite photo? #fakenewsnetworktrolls? Paranoid, much? Or probable signs of control freakery?

    I freely admit that until seeing this article I wasn’t much interested in the contest; now I’m definitely not interested in this whopper.

    Couldn’t have put me more off him if his hashtag’d been #g4sthemany

    1. Yes, the very fact that he’s done that – ie recycled the ‘private NHS contractor’ fabrication/smear – should set very loud alarm bells ringing.

      And talking of ‘hit jobs’, I did a search (with duckduckgo) about an hour ago to see if the right-wing press were ‘covering’ this, and in the list of results there was an article entitled: Three reasons why Jennie Formby should not become General Secretary of the Labour Party.

      Now THAT’S what you call a ‘hit job’!

      It was on a website called The Centre Left, and at the end of the article – just below it – it said the article first appeared on Labour Uncut (and had a link to it). I’ve never heard of either of them before (not that THAT means a lot), but the article – if one can call it that – sounds like it was written by a Tory propagandist.

      At the time, I left a short comment on first one, then the other, saying how most of the claims of anti-semitism in the LP were/are false, and cited Ken Livingstone as the perfect example, and finished by saying that anyone wanting to know the truth should read the article entitled In Defence of Ken Livingstone. I don’t know if it’s still up on The Centre Left website, but it was awaiting moderation on the Labour Uncut website as of when I wrote it, but when I checked a few minutes ago it was gone.

      The truth obviously doesn’t come into it when you have an agenda!

      PS Just this second checked the other website, and my comment is still there at the moment.

  6. Hilden has flushed himself out.

    He’s a wrecker. Just like McNicol.

    Jog on Hilden, find another party to sabotage.

    We’re not interested.

  7. How astonishingly gauche Mr Hilden must be to reveal himself as such an empty sloganising poseur, and such an over-sensitive cry baby when anyone tries to actually dig below the airy rhetoric to what he would really DO to boost our membership to 1 million. He is, as others have said, actually issuing a bid for a currently not available job, ie, that of marketing/social media organiser for the Party. Beneath the superficial “new ways of communicating ” rhetoric, and also that cynical “Palestinian solidarity is not anti semitism” stuff, I detect the pungent odour of a self-serving Blairite-style opportunist – not the solid socialist and experienced Party machine organiser we need . A real own goal by the self proclaimed social media expert via this clumsy, posturing, intervention on Skwawkbox, methinks.

  8. Paul Hilder?
    Leave the poor guy alone.
    He needs help at this difficult and stressful time.
    Psychiatric help, by the sound of it.
    And if he carries on, legal help.

  9. I suspect his fake response was was concocted for the Tory Press et al.

    1. The guy is a wrecker.

      He is probably frantically trying to get in contact with his handler, Peter Mandelson, to report the membership are on to him and he needs to be immediately extracted from behind enemy lines.

      You’ve been found out Hilder.

      Jog on.

  10. I see some people are saying the job is ‘just’ administrative and should therefore be an appointment.

    It’s not just a job, it’s one of the most powerful positions in the Party with massive responsibilities which can be abused, as we have seen. It should absolutely be an elected position.

    1. You readily admit that the position can be abused, as evinced by Iain McNicol, who arguably lost Labour the General Election by intentionally underfunding marginals.

      Yet at the same time you argue the position should have an electoral mandate which would have prevented McNicol being removed.

      Your argument makes no sense whatsoever.

      Please tell me you have a better one?

      Iain McNicol is the perfect example of why the post is and must continue to be an appointed one.

    2. I guess those on both sides make valid points, but IF it were down to Labour Party members, then any potential stitch-up would be avoided. And given that the vast majority of members at present support JC, then they would vote for his preferred candidate. That said, I would be interested to hear from anyone what the downsides of doing it that way would/might be.

      1. I have yet to hear a good argument in favour of electing the general secretary.

        Feel free to have a go, Allan.

      2. IT Your post in response to Jack T appeared whilst I was typing out my post in relation to what he said. And as I said at the END of my post, I would – of course – be interested to hear of any downsides regards the GS being elected by the membership. So why would you have any reason to say: “Feel free to have a go, Allan”?

        If people hold different positions on the subject, then it goes without saying that it would be good to hear all the pros and cons for BOTH set out for those of us who would like to hear them. My own inclination is to go with what Jeremy – and skwawkbox for that matter – believe is best – ie that the post of GS should be selected by NEC officers. Never-the-less, I would like to hear all the pros and cons for each of them, as no doubt many other people would.

      3. There are many reasons why the GS is appointed, not elected.

        But the onus is on people who think the role should be elected to make that argument.

        So far I haven’t heard a single coherent argument why the method of the appointment should change.

      4. Interestingly, I was just reading a very long article on the LabourPartyMarxists website (as a consequence of something someone said in relation to Jennie Formby), and THEY had this to say (re Jon Lansman’s position on the subject):

        ‘But Lansman has gone one further with his proposal to have the general secretary elected by the party membership as a whole. We very much oppose it. It sounds democratic, but really it is not. It would actually create two rival centres of power. We have seen under McNicol’s tenure how destructive the general secretary can be. Having direct elections to the post would not prevent this situation occurring again – it would though guarantee endemic conflict between Labour Party HQ, the NEC and the leaders’ office. No, the general secretary should remain directly accountable to the NEC. Once the numbers on the NEC had changed in favour of the pro-Corbyn left, McNicol’s time was up. And that is how it should be.’

        Sounds pretty convincing to me, but it would never-the-less be good to hear Jack T’s response to these points, or anyone elses that favours the GS being elected by LP members.

  11. I’ve had bosses return from events feeling energised and enlightened by the latest empty, vapid management-speak learned from the latest guru passing off a catch-phrase as “insight.”
    About six weeks of being unable to either detail them or put the magical new theories into practice is usually enough for them to be quietly laid to rest.
    The few that persisted, like JIT and headhunting (instead of training and developing staff) have caused long term ill effects for the whole country.

    Judging by his “memo” Mr. Hilder appears to be the type to swallow such perfume-sprayed turds whole.
    The kindest possible response from the leader’s office was to ignore it.

  12. Wow, what a response from Hilder. It’s a bit focused on the critical side and I cannot say I am completely satisfied with it. But I think it’s informative and it really did address some of my concern for Hilder. I thought skwawkbox did an okay job with Hilder’s interview. At least it’s much better than her treatment of Lansman, which I am extremely disappointed.

    I think it’s fine to call skwawkbox a bit too partisan and not fair enough. For example, while it supports Formby (FYI it’s a bit of flip between her and lansman, though I am more inclined towards Formby), it can address more the merits of rivaling candidates. But fake news? Especially in the context that a lot of tories/labour right try to dismiss skwawkbox with that label? This is completely unacceptable. I had my doubts towards Hilder before. His douche response is just unacceptable and I don’t think he’s too fit for Labour GS. Consider Formby’s response to Nick Cohen’s fucked up article. That’s what a labour GS would look like to me.

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