When the leaked, 51-second audio of comments by veteran left-wing NEC member – and candidate in the current election for nine members to serve the next two years – Peter Willsman were published yesterday by the Jewish Chronicle (JC), a storm of outrage was whipped up to demand Willsman’s suspension or resignation.
Why the recording was only leaked almost a week after the meeting, when NEC voting has begun and it’s too late to put another left candidate onto the ballot has not been disclosed.
But the narrative used by media and right-wing politicians to frame Willsman’s comments does not match the comments themselves. Here is the recording:
Although an examination of Willsman’s comments reveals that he said nothing untrue or antisemitic, numerous commentators have joined in the pile-on, including some left-wingers who should know better.
Willsman has also been hounded by media, demanding to know whether he will stand down:
In reality, the evidence of Willsman’s actual comments speaks for itself – which means that the most pressing matter objectively is the question of who broke faith and confidentiality to record and then leak the comments.
But the recording also narrows the range of possible perpetrators – because it is obvious from the audio that it was recorded from a speaker rather than in person. In other words, whoever made the recording was ‘dialling in’ and not on view to the rest of the participants.
So who wasn’t at the meeting in person?
From discussions with an array of people who were at the meeting, a list of just seven NEC members who were dialling into the meeting has been identified. Any one of the names on that list had the opportunity to create a recording, out of sight of other participants, of Willsman’s comments distorted by loudspeaker playback.
No other personnel have been shown to have connected to the meeting remotely. Of the seven names, three essentially self-eliminate because of their solid track record and left credentials, while one probably lacks the calculation required.
Of the remaining three, one name has been mentioned today by several NEC members as being the object of their suspicion.
Labour must investigate immediately to confirm the identity of the perpetrator – and then act decisively.
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