April 2017 article reveals backdrop to text messages revealed by new book
‘Abusive’ texts sent by London MP Neil Coyle to then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have been revealed by a new book.
Coyle’s emails vary wildly, with some castigating Corbyn and others inviting him for a drink, then swinging to claiming Corbyn was a disaster on the doorstep with local voters. Some of these messages claiming Corbyn’s unpopularity were sent just before the 2017 general election campaign in which the ‘Corbyn surge’ destroyed Theresa May’s majority.
The article below was published in April 2017, the day before the general election was called, and provides a backdrop to Coyle’s texts.
Coyle’s investigation by Labour goes far beyond one bullying email
A very short while ago, Progress MP Neil Coyle appeared on Sky News to defend himself over his reporting by Jeremy Corbyn’s office – not by Corbyn himself – to the Labour Whips. He also appeared in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday with what appears to be a pre-emptive attack on Labour front-benchers over a supposed lack of parliamentary questions – and today in another right-wing rag, the Daily Mail, claiming he won’t be ‘intimidated’:
Mr Coyle should be better able to recognise ‘intimidation’. He has a track record for publicly attacking Labour staff and colleagues, for example his weight jibe on Twitter against Shadow Cabinet member Richard Burgon – and that Sun article, claiming Labour front-benchers are not doing their job properly:
This is not an isolated incident. Coyle’s behaviour on Twitter recently has deteriorated and he has been running to the Sun with increasing frequency:
Coyle has not been referred to the Whips for discipline for attacking Jeremy Corbyn. Among Labour right-wingers, that’s ‘ten a penny’ stuff and nobody else has been reported.
A list of complaints
But Coyle’s troubles go a long way beyond his abuse toward Labour staff. In a string of incidents, according to a senior Labour source:
- Coyle is the subject of a formal complaint about his alleged treatment of a Labour staff member at the PLP (parliamentary Labour party) meeting following the Copeland and Stoke by-elections
- he is the subject of a formal complaint about alleged public bullying of a recently-appointed Labour staff member on social media
- Coyle is the subject of a formal complaint regarding alleged public bullying of a recently-departed member of staff
- he is under the spotlight for sending abusive emails to three members of the Shadow Cabinet – and then promptly leaking them to journalists
- Coyle faces scrutiny for using social media to attempt to body-shame a parliamentary colleague
At least one of the complaints by staff has been referred to lawyers.
Among the most damning aspects of Coyle’s behaviour is that he gave his article to the Sun, and spoke to Sky, accusing the leader’s team of poor performance when he already knew well over two weeks ago that the criticisms by journalists that he has used as the basis for his comments were not about Corbyn’s team but rather about the official Labour media team, which does not report to the Labour leader.
The SKWAWKBOX has seen emails that confirm Coyle was reminded on 31 March that Marie le Conte and other journalists had clarified their original Twitter comments to make plain that they were not about Corbyn’s team.
All of this is on top of criticism for offering quotes to the worst of the Murdoch press to gain attention for himself by attacking the Shadow Cabinet. In one case, a Shadow Cabinet member was attacked even though she had only briefly stood in for a colleague who was receiving serious medical treatment.
A fuller understanding of the context of Mr Coyle’s behaviour does not suggest a man ‘refusing to be intimidated’ by means of an unfair complaint.
Rather it suggests a man with an intimidation habit and a lack of concern for or control over his behaviour, even when he is the object of multiple formal complaints and a threat of legal action. One for whom staff members and colleagues alike are fair game for even comments known to be inaccurate – and who is ready to run to the worst of the right-wing media to justify his behaviour when it comes home to roost.
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