Analysis Exclusive

Exclusive: the truth about ‘that’ Shadow Cabinet meeting

Corbyn’s ‘fury’ with McDonnell as Labour leader keeps Shadow Cabinet seat for Chief of Staff

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was ‘furious’ with John McDonnell for the manoeuvre that led to Corbyn’s chief of staff being moved out of his ‘LOTO’ team – and made his feelings clear last week when he reserved the seat next to him at Tuesday’s Shadow Cabinet meeting for the woman who acts as his ‘firewall’.

Reporting accurately for once, the Sunday Times has described Corbyn’s symbolic action and his fury with his Shadow Chancellor for acting beyond the brief Corbyn had given him – and the Labour leader’s action to ‘shore up Murphy’s authority’.

But it has only given part of the story.

A senior Labour source told the SKWAWKBOX:

Jeremy spoke of his personal admiration for Karie’s strength and altruism. He could scarcely have been warmer.

Corbyn’s praise was not the only ‘detail’ omitted by the Murdoch publication.

When Murphy’s move was announced earlier this month, the official Labour story made no mention of the background and real reasons for the move – which the SKWAWKBOX later revealed – and was presented as a purely positive and temporary development allowing Murphy to coordinate the party’s campaign in the coming general election.

Petty vindictiveness

But behind the scenes there was petty vindictiveness toward the woman who has for several years acted as Corbyn’s ‘firewall’ – and only Labour general secretary Jennie Formby’s intervention blocked an attempt by those behind the move to strip Murphy of her ‘Chief of Staff’ title.

One senior Labour figure told the SKWAWKBOX at the time:

John [McDonnell] has turned into a complete s**t.

Media attacks

McDonnell’s allies among the ‘blue-tick left’ media had for months been attacking Murphy and other key Corbyn allies. Paul Mason called for Murphy, party chair Ian Lavery and communications chief Seumas Milne to be removed because they were making it harder to push Corbyn into a full-remain position:

At the time Mason was calling for Murphy to be sacked, she was continuing to fight Corbyn’s battles while recovering from surgery and from the loss of a parent.

But the attacks on Murphy did not stop when she was moved out of Corbyn’s office to Labour’s Southside HQ.

Just last week, the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush wrote a ‘whitewash‘ of McDonnell’s behaviour in which he inaccurately claimed close Corbyn ally Jon Trickett had also argued for Murphy’s removal – when Trickett has provably been a consistent advocate and admirer of Corbyn’s chief of staff.

Shortly afterward, the Huffington Post’s Paul Waugh also targeted Murphy:

Waugh, alongside several provably incorrect claims, said that Corbyn was so infuriated at last week’s Shadow Cabinet meeting by questioning of the Murphy move that he ‘let rip’ in anger, lashing out at even at his close friend and Labour Party chair Ian Lavery.

That claim has now been exposed as not only false but in fact inverted – the opposite of the truth – by a rare example of one hostile media outlet correcting the false narrative of another.

And of Corbyn’s enemies struggling to keep their briefings straight.

Consolidating a central role

Murphy – who once donated a kidney to a stranger – has not sat back to watch the paint dry in her new office nor hesitated to put Corbyn’s renewed support to good use. As another piece of uncharacteristic accuracy by the Murdoch paper showed, she has begun ‘cementing her influence’.

Murphy is busy bringing Labour’s relatively-new network of community organisers into her brief and is about to start a tour of Labour’s regional offices – still mostly controlled by the old right-wing personnel and the core of many problems for Labour members trying to democratise their local parties – ‘to say hello’.


Multiple exposures of corporate media propaganda, Corbyn’s genuine anger at the move to isolate him – since intensified by his dismay at McDonnell and co’s breach of front-bench collective responsibility – and a role for Corbyn’s chief of staff Karie Murphy even more central to ‘the project’ than she already fulfilled.

The ‘soft coup‘ is not over – but the truth about last week’s Shadow Cabinet meeting shows it suffered a significant setback.

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  1. As another piece of uncharacteristic accuracy by the Murdoch paper showed, she [Murphy] has begun ‘cementing her influence’.

    So in other words Murphy is making a valuable contribution in her new post confirming that Jeremy was wise to move her.

    1. The televised fiasco surrounding Motion 13 severely dented my confidence in her.

    2. Who are you Jack T?Tom Watson? Jennie Formby is undergoing cancer treatment having had surgery,chemo and the last year.I think calling for her removal in these circumstances constitutes a witch hunt but kick her when she’s down why don’t you.

      1. Jennie Formby needs to take a sabbatical or time to convalesce. There is something rotten @ the heart of administration/management in the Labour Party which needs addressing now. Ian McNicol actively worked with other Blairites to embed his own supporters & they remain in post. Very soon Jeremy Corbyn will be completely isolated as more members are accused of anti-Semitism. Chris Williamson is still excluded.
        The return to ‘New Labour’ is back on track.

      2. Smartboy, don’t be a virtue signaller and try lay some sort of guilt trip on me. I care as much about Jennie Formby’s health as much as you or anyone and I have written to her to say as much.

        The truth is she is not up to the job but for the sake of her health, as a responsible employer, the Labour Party should have given her sick leave to recouperate, whether she asked for it or not, but that is an entirely different subject and an indication of your lack of integrity for even mentioning it.

        Jennie Formby is still allowing suspension letters to go out on the basis of accustions without proof in exactly the same way as did Iain McNicol. The disciplinary procedure in the Party is a joke and requires a complete overhaul. She is the General Secretary and has the power to oversee those procedures and by her actions or lack of, she is contributiong to honourable members being suspended.

    3. Jack T, I probably know less about Labour’s rules than most of you here but I do have a few thoughts on the subject – Jennie Formby doesn’t have the power of a dictator, she hasn’t been in post very long and she inherited a wasp’s nest. And she’s been properly ill.
      A fair number of the roadblocks to progress will be employees I expect, and employees have rights.
      I assume some will have been hired in the Blair years, their loyalty is probably still to the centrists and they’re probably keeping Blair better informed than Corbyn as they work against us.
      Wholesale sacking of employees isn’t our thing anyway, but unfair dismissal tribunals would also be a gift to the Tories and the MSM.

      Is that enough to be going on with?






      2. David, as I said, after you posted, it’s procedures which require altering and because “no one should be a judge in their own cause”, to quote an old maxim, no member of the JLM should be allowed to get anywhere near cases of alleged anti-Semitism.

        My suggestion to anyone who does receive a letter of suspension for alleged A/S is to ask if any member of the JLM had a hand in processing the case? If so, insist that the case is thrown out on the basis of bias. However, it will be easier said than done because it is very difficult to obtain the names of anyone at Southside who sits in judgement.

      3. I don’t think anyone could have sorted out the core of the Party in this space of time, especially with a self-damaging NEC willing to give credence to the IHRA nonsense.

        The shambles at Conference was a symptom of a deeper reality, I think – not the fault of a single individual, even if the rectification of bad decisions leading to own goals wasn’t exactly nimble.

    4. Ever since Jennie became Gen Sec I’ve seen so many men, some calling themselves socialists, telling us she’s not up to the job.
      Unless you’re confident you can do it better, and unless you know *everything* that’s going on, don’t.

      1. Anyone attacking Jennie is an idiot per se or a right-wing idiot. They should simply shut up, go away & let real democratic socialists do the talking. Go away & educate themselves or go and join a party more suited to their politics.

    5. Indeed the witch hunts are still continuing, with a new batch of letters going out to members over the last week or so.

      Is it a coincidence that the suspension letters (always the same wording, no proof or evidence and it seems, only ever to left wing or Corbyn supporters) are once again going out at a crux time? In this case just as CLPs are meeting to select new candidates amid what is apparently a NEC stitch up of left wing candidates? Usually a batch go out just before conference, as they did again this year. It’s starting to look like a routine, coordinated campaign, which of course is what it is.

      Perhaps Jennie Formby would like to explain why this happens on a regular basis? And more to the point, why she is ignoring it?

    6. “We”? Who’s “We”? Anyone who thinks Jennie should be replaced sounds like a right-winger to me.

      You don’t get rid of brilliant people just because enemies attack them.

  2. I haven’t watched a soap since I was married & watching was obligatory. Counting the minutes until the soaps were over turned into counting the minutes until the marriage was over – swore I’d never watch a soap again & never have.
    Starting to think about divorcing Labour.

  3. Completely uncontroversial comment on the difficulties Jennie Formby faces either gone to moderation or deleted, apparently.
    This is all getting a bit pointless.

      1. Thanks Sue 🙂 there was a delay of only a few minutes this time but there have been much longer ones and occasionally Skwawk ‘disappears’ them.
        Frustrating not to know whether you’ve been moderated with extreme prejudice or the comment you’ve just spent whole minutes carefully crafting has disappeared into the ether.
        I’m just a grumpy old man is the truth of it 🙁

      2. I don’t think it’s Skwawkbox that is stopping posts. At least most of them.

        Adding links gets your post stopped (2 or more I believe). It’s also fussy about the browser you use (Duckduckgo is 50/50. Just disappears into the ether). Popular threads also impact update speeds.

        Off Guardian had similar issues until they migrated to a new bespoke site (costs money, time and skills).

        You have good reason to be grumpy. You (like all of us), have been deceived and cheated.

      3. Can confirm the glitchiness, David – I have been experiencing the same -I like that comment too.

      4. Lots of issues on OFF Guardian presently, something to do with the ‘cache’, as such, posts are either being lost, or not appearing in a prompt manner – most unusual for Off Guardian to censor any posts.

      5. David

        At least you don’t get unsubscribed from Skwawkbox bulletins by persons unknown, which just happened to me for the 3rd or 4th time, from last Wed till I realised things had gone very quiet yesterday, when I checked and had to re-subscribe. Now I’ve got a dozen-odd posts to catch up on.

        Those spooks are getting really busy these days…

      6. timfrom, actually I get blanked by WordPress too – so often I don’t even bother logging in any more to reset notifications for the umpteenth time.

  4. IF..theres troublet Mill we’ve seen it all before for decades,its just the tribal war dance before a General election….nostalgia?

  5. Just read the Morning star 🌟that sugests why not let the Labour leader …lead?Now that would be a noval idea

  6. I can believe that McD is a strong remainer. And I can believe that he has come to conclusion we need to be a remain party to win election. I don’t believe (that if this is true) he’s taking that position to undermine Corbyn. Views are passionate and divided re this. And, in fact, it feels to me as though remain have pretty much pushed the party now in that direction. My view is the damage has now been done. When a GE is called I think we now risk losing 10s of seats in the north. What labour leaver will now feel they can trust us to negotiate a deal with EU when our top people are declaring they are strong remainers at rally’s in London? But I keep thinking that maybe McD etc know something I don’t? Or maybe they’ve just drowned in the London bubble?

    1. Paul Mason who is a strong supporter of McD has been tweeting provocatively that JC supporters should keep ‘the abuse coming’, implying that it will reassure former Labour voters to return to the fold from LDs, Greens etc. I think that is a very ill-judged assumption but it offers some kind of explanation. As I’ve said before, in my experience, the belief that the ends justifies the means, rarely turns out well… and it’s intrinsically a unilateral strategy, ignoring democratic decisions.

      You may well be correct that McD ‘has come to conclusion we need to be a remain party to win election’ but he has a history of precisely this sort of freelancing and the reason why some union leaders objected to him being made shadow chancellor in 2015.

      1. Interesting info about some union leaders objecting to McDonnell being shadow chancellor.

        Ah, McDonnell who recently publically exonerated Blair and welcomed Campbell back to LP with open arms is allied with Mason that neo-imperialist/western exceptionalist? Well blow me down. Aren’t they both ex Trotskyists? Perhaps they are not ex at all? From what I can glean Trotskyists are the enablers of Capitalists/’ruling classes’.
        Well they obviously see 4m UK voters as ‘unpeople’ just like all western exceptionalists see millions that resist imperialism and colonialism as ‘unpeople’.

        Mason only comes on my radar second hand these days, he has nothing to say that I am interested in.

      2. Syzgysue, that’s my view entirely, only expressed more succinctly – thanks!

      3. I can’t claim to be able to contextualise Paul Mason with any expertise; but, as i’ve said before, I’ve yet to find anything coherent or compelling in anything that he has written on the Guardian payroll. So that’s a like for Maria’s comment from me too.

    2. If there’s a chance of a referendum on Johnson’s ‘deal’ Labour will campaign for remain & reform. JC has said that himself previously. IMO only Labour are preparing for every eventuality – because the only thing that’s certain at the mo is that nothing is certain. Some commentators are saying the numbers are there for a VONC. Both can’t be true.
      It’s possible to be pro-Remain but still have the integrity to negotiate a decent deal & give people the final say isn’t it? Because we’re so used to the shenanigans of the Hard Brexiteers & the Hard Remainers like the LimpDumps praps people lose sight of that?
      It was also important (IMO again) that key figures like Diane & John who are known to be close to JC cut thru the media ‘gatekeeping’ to speak directly to people at the rally on Saturday.
      This is interesting if you’ve not seen it yet

      1. Kipperwacker
        Labour only party representing both sides and trying to bring country back together
        I dont give a fuck who will campaign for remain or leave, I do care we have a real choice after GE that honours 2016 result
        Keep on keeping on lads and lasses

      2. Yes Kipperwacker, thanks for the link.

        I was at the Grand Central Hall on Saturday and, tellingly, Angela Rayner spoke too, rather than join the McDonnell scum at the remainer rally. (Et tu, Diane?)

        Angela is now looking nailed-on for next Labour leader.

    3. Sue, syzgysue sums it up for me and your comment reflects my own fears. I think an apparent lack of unity is always going to be damaging. I would only add that with regards to the seats in the North, I strongly urge you to take a look at the BES link (see the ‘soft coup’ thread) which offers a survey designed to address this issue from the ground up. I’ve flagged it several times now; I hope I’m not turning into a troll!

    4. “I can believe that McD is a strong remainer”

      Well … he’d only be echoing the views of a majority in his Party. Not exactly a radical idea.

      1. Oh, here’s RH again with the myth Labour Party members, voters and potential voters are all Remainers, the rest of us, that’s actual lifelong Socialists who have opposed ‘ever closer union’ are just unpersons, not really Labour. What the fuck is all i can say, and cease the ‘myth’ as the fact is, without the votes of Labour Leave voters you have neoliberalism of three colours, namely, Red Tories, Blue Tories and Yellow Tories.

        Oh, and the last time the neoliberal scum tried to throw the UK’s working class under a bus the Party lost millions of votes – still, good luck with your Remain, Remain, Remain propaganda and how democratic you are, which is total bollocks.

      2. ” the myth Labour Party members, voters and potential voters are all Remainers”

        Try reading, Christopher, even if it hurts a bit. I’ve never written any such thing. Just that the majority are.

        Your darling ‘Leavers’ are mostly Tories, not Labour supporters. And Brexit throws all under the bus.

  7. The European Union offered Johnson a deal that included removing legal entitlement to environmental & workers’ rights. McDonnell & Starmer are now so closely aligned to Jo Swinson that they demand a 2nd Referendum with 2 of the most obnoxious choices possible…….the New Deal without workers’ rights or Remain; a real Hobson’s choice.

    The EU think so much of workers’ rights?

    How does Starmer sleep @ night? His head must hit the pillow & just slip off!

    1. Steve Richard’s
      Equally dont give a fuck what’s in Cummings glove puppet deal, we are only pissing in the wind here
      Only question to answer, what is the quickest path to a GE, that’s when the fun begins
      My position is it’s the cheap and nasty Tory party facing wipe out and it’s up to us to hasten their demise,
      All contributions to that particular cause are welcome, otherwise STFU

  8. All I would say is that Skwawkbox’s efforts to damp down the various tales of dissension within the ranks actually is just more shit on the shit-heap.

    It’s like watching a pantomime. “He/She’s behind you!” “No he/she’s not!”

    The only sure thing is that currently the Party is a mess.

  9. A little reminder to substantiate why leaving Europe is essential, this video was recorded in 2016 and is therefore highly relevant to the current situation in Europe as a whole, and the constant right wing drift that has taken place there. The reference to Neo-Liberal New Labour was of course essential to understand why Jeremy Corbyn has been vital in transforming the public debate around austerity.

  10. For Gawd’s sake!…Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour party by a big majority…That’s democracy at work..It doesn’t matter if you voted for him or not..Thousands of others did….Let him do his job and give him some support…I have a message for these dissenters…If you’re happy to have a Tory Govt. for the next umpteen years,carry on the way you’re going and it will happen..Personally, I wish you’d just sod off and join another party and leave the Labour Party to the people who care about it and the people it represents…

    1. You mean leave it just to those who voted Remain?

      I wouldn’t wish the Party to become so narrow minded and sectarian.

  11. Oh Dear Right Wing Ambush on here today.
    JC is a Star!
    Jennie F is a Star!
    Karie is a Star!
    3 stars and you’re in!
    Perhaps we need a bad cop to Jeremy’s good cop?
    We are still in with a shout with JC continuing to go direct to the people and the mass membership sticking to Conference Policy and getting out on the doorstep to sell the excellent 201 policies!

  12. ” Right Wing Ambush on here today.”

    aka – normal debate with a variance of views.

    Don’t panic! Paranoia isn’t a compulsory attribute of the left.

    1. HRH….Don’t ask for the extra H..but I will put you down as a definite NO after the comment paranoia isnt a compulsory attribute of the left..

  13. I’ll probably replace the standing order I cancelled a few days ago in a week or so in (almost) any event.
    Membership lapsed or not I’m a committed Corbynite angry at PrimaDonnell, TWatson and the rest and wanted somebody at HQ to have a reason actually to read my reply to their ‘URGENT!’ email:
    “Dear David,
    Our[sic] records show you recently cancelled your Labour Party membership Direct Debit. This may have been a mistake [ 🙂 ] — get in touch with us today to make sure you remain a member of our inspiring movement.”

    “Dear Labour Party,
    those wreckers in Labour who call themselves ‘centrists’ are enablers of neoliberalism and therefore far to the right of centre.
    By hogging the middle lane of the motorway to the future, smiling obsequiously at the super rich flashing by in the outside lane doing 120, they at the same time force the rest of us to stop-start along the inside lane so slowly that we run out of petrol and everything else on the way.
    When those so-called centrists in the PLP and elsewhere are either expelled from Labour or announce loudly and publicly that they now accept that only genuinely redistributive measures will prevent the imminent acquisition by the 1% of 100% of the UK – I’ll be delighted to replace my Direct Debit.”

    Wasting my time, right?
    I know, probably as well as you, that people in ivory towers are immune to logic and the opinions of the bleating masses but fuck it, can’t let it die without trying, or at least a whimper of complaint.

    1. It is shameful but unfortunately it would appear that the Labour Party, despite its principles, is studiously ignoring Julian Assange’s plight.

      1. It’s not unfortunate it is a deliberate inaction. Cowards or enablers? With a sniff of power principles have gone out of the window…

      2. I would argue that ‘studiously ignoring’ and ‘deliberate inaction’ have roughly the same meaning.

  14. I prefer plain speaking SteveH.

    A reminder of what assange is on trial for, for publishing Iraq and other war logs such as this “collateral murder” video committed by Bush’s forces..

    Even people coming to the aid of those gunned down are attacked with two children in the front seat!

    1. Maria 22/10/2019 at 6:31 pm

      For goodness sake Maria just accept that I’m agreeing with you. Being pedantic as to what is or isn’t ‘plain speaking’ is verging on the ridiculous.

    2. John Pilger on the disgusting case against Assange. This is UK in 21C an authoritarian rogue state, rogue state has never been a truer description.. I don’t see LP changing any of this illegal, repressive silencing of publishing truth and persecution of whistleblowers, dissenters, journalists and publishers who call Gov to account.
      Also an interview with Chris Williamson the only MP I am aware of to speak out regularly and consistently against the abusive treatment of Assange. Of course he is suspended from LP… red flag up.

      The following piece about requirement of photo ID to vote also worth watching.

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