Both former campaign director Patrick Heneghan and documentary-maker John Ware have now admitted right-wing staffers diverted Labour campaign funds for their own ends during the 2017 general election. A key member of that campaign dismantles Heneghan’s attempt to justify himself and others accused by leaked Labour report
Former Labour campaigns director Patrick Heneghan has published a self-defence of the conduct of himself and other right-wing former senior staff – on a website set up specifically for the purpose but used widely by the so-called ‘mainstream’ media in what appears to be a concerted effort to discredit the leaked Labour report.
That report accuses those former staff of an array of misconduct ranging from racism to obstructing disciplinary proceedings, from leaking damaging information to journalists to diverting party funds to a secret ‘Ergon House’ project to spend on right-wing MPs already in safe seats – and much else in between.
Some of Heneghan’s self-defence looks decidedly shaky. He tweeted denying that he has ever ‘seen’ Diane Abbott crying in a toilet – hardly surprising given it would have been the ladies’ – and that he has ever contacted Channel 4 journalist Michael Crick. But – as pointed out in a comment on his blog post – his own WhatsApp messages stated that Crick had already been told about the Abbott incident:
Heneghan has now tried to dismiss his comments about Abbott and Crick as “part of an ongoing series of jokes about Mr Crick in the WhatsApp group”.
He has also tried to go on the offensive to discredit former Corbyn staff who have pointed out the behaviour of HQ staff who were supposed to be working for a general election win – but looked foolish and desperate in the process:
But by far the biggest blow to Heneghan’s attempt to absolve himself of any responsibility is a detailed thread by Steve Howell, who worked closely with Corbyn’s office on the 2017 general election campaign.
In a 14-tweet thread, Howell says that:
- Heneghan has now admitted that the right-wing staff diverted party funds for their own purposes
- this is unequivocally a breach of the party’s rules and the staff’s obligations
- Heneghan talks about the official election campaign committee as if it reported to him
- the diverted funds were used on the seats of notable right-wingers who already had big majorities – and had already received ample funds: Tom Watson, Yvette Cooper, Caroline Flint, Dan Jarvis, Kate Green, Bridget Phillipson, Rachel Reeves, Chris Bryant, Seema Malhotra, Angela Eagle and Kevan Jones (described elsewhere as the front-bench right-wing staffers would have wanted if the 2017 election had gone badly and led to a leadership challenge)
- Heneghan’s claim that Corbyn was focusing funds on allies is nonsense when the likes of Ian Austin and John Woodcock were supported
- right-wing staff ignored the ‘Corbyn surge’ even after it became obvious
- Heneghan’s claim that the diverted funds didn’t affect the result is absurd ‘political gymnastics’
- funds Heneghan claimed were channelled to the safe seat of Corbyn ally Jon Trickett actually benefited two right-wing MPs
- Heneghan’s claim that Corbyn was unpopular ‘on the doorstep’ in 2017 was nothing more than the usual varied opinions of voters – a view that the Labour surge on 8 June that year proved
- Heneghan’s article is mere ‘deflection’ intended to divert attention from the serious issue – now an admitted issue – of party staff misappropriating funds for their own priorities
In fact, on the Trickett issue Howell doesn’t go far enough. Not only did the advert not go to Trickett’s seat alone, Trickett specifically asked for the funds to be spent on ads in papers that would benefit Yvette Cooper and Mary Creagh, two entrenched Corbyn critics, but that the ad should appear in the Leeds seat lost in 2015 by right-wing former Chancellor Ed Balls, and not Trickett’s.
This is what ‘forensic’ looks like – and Heneghan’s attempt to excuse himself and others wilts under its spotlight.
Patrick Heneghan was contacted for comment but did not respond.
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