As a result of a written parliamentary question put by Labour MP Chris Williamson, the news broke this weekend that the government used public money to pay a private company of former intelligence officers to conduct smear campaigns against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his aides.
The mainstream media’s coverage has been sparse – and the BBC News coverage scandalously non-existent.
But Labour will table an ‘Urgent Question’ in Parliament tomorrow to force the government to answer for its assault on the UK’s democracy and constitution.
Earlier, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry expressed the party’s outrage:
It is one of the cardinal rules of British public life that official resources should not be used for party political purposes. So, it is simply outrageous that the clearly mis-named ‘Integrity Initiative’ – funded by the Foreign Office to the tune of £2.25 million over the past two years – has routinely been using its Twitter feed to disseminate personal attacks and smears against the Leader of the Opposition, the Labour Party and Labour officials.
And this cannot be dismissed as something outside the Government’s control, given the application for funding agreed by the Foreign Office last year stated explicitly that it would be used in part to expand “the impact of the Integrity Initiative website…and Twitter/social media accounts.
So the Government must now answer the following questions: why did the Foreign Office allow public money to be spent on attempting to discredit Her Majesty’s Opposition? Did they know this was happening? If not, why not? And if they did, how on earth can they justify it?
The scale of this scandal should have triggered rolling media coverage and the spectacle of Tory ministers being led away in handcuffs. It’s up to the independent media and their readers to make sure the news gets the attention it should – and Labour must accept no excuses from the government.
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