Former senior LOTO staffer and front-bench MP attack working-class Labour MP, while two right-wing MPs pair up on CWU leader Dave Ward
Two leading left figures have been targeted in what Labour insiders say is a ‘coordinated’ attack by Keir Starmer’s ‘LOTO’ (leader of the opposition) office as the Labour leader’s insecurity over his prospects in the Hartlepool by-election spill over into a Stalinist attack on free speech.
A poll by the CWU union found that Hartlepool voters prefer the Tories over Labour by a considerable margin – hardly surprising when Hartlepool voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU and Labour has imposed an ardently pro-EU candidate on the local party, not to mention Keir Starmer’s almost total lack of policy and vision on offer to win voters’ hearts and minds.
But the poll triggered an almost immediate attack by two right-wing MPs on the union’s general secretary Dave Ward, with Bradshaw tweeting snidely to Ward to accuse him of undermining Starmer and Labour (Bradshaw compounded his anti-union record by also appearing in Sky’s smears against Unite’s Len McCluskey):
Perkins, who has recently been in trouble for vile anti-Gypsy comments and for praising police violence against free speech protesters, took an almost identical line, tweeting:
Instead of spending his members’ money running tiny polls to undermine @UKLabour campaign, @DaveWardGS could more usefully get himself up to Hartlepool. A lot more than 42% of voters I’ve met are voting for @PaulWilliamsLAB.
The obviously briefed and noxious line led to pushback from the union’s members and others:
But the most galling to Starmer’s minders will have been the contempt and humour with which Ward himself responded, tweeting a picture of the two right-wing MPs he claimed jjokingly was of his grandfather and grandfather’s brother in 1921 as they founded a results-on-demand polling company:
So angered by this were Starmer and his minions that they have today escalated their attack on Ward, briefing the centrist press that:
It’s mind-boggling that one of the trade unions represented on Labour’s NEC would work hand in hand with the Murdoch press to undermine the Labour party during a crucial set of elections
Keir Starmer’s allies are, of course, on good terms with ‘the Murdoch press’, frequently briefing to journalists who were deeply hostile to Labour during the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Left-wing back-bencher Jon Trickett was the target of an almost identical attack after Trickett wrote an article in the Guardian that the paper’s headline – not chosen by Trickett – focused on the Hartlepool by-election.
In reality, Trickett was writing about Labour’s general need to connect effectively with working-class voters, with Hartlepool only peripherally involved, but such details don’t appear to have come into the equation in the paranoia of Keir Starmer’s office.
Trickett’s article pointed out that:
- ‘New Labour’ politics were, by Blair aide Peter Mandelson’s own admission, an embrace of and accommodation with Margaret Thatcher’s right-wing policies
- that anyone who wanted to return to New Labour needed to face up to the massive loss of votes and working-class communities and
- that the Corbyn surge of 2017 was the closest Labour has come to reconnecting with those lost voters and their communities
But Trickett also said that he believed that Starmer’s Labour can win the Hartlepool by-election – the only time in the entire article that Starmer was mentioned.
Despite this, front-bench Labour MP Steph Peacock rapidly tweeted a snide attack on Trickett that was almost identical to the swipes at Ward:
Trickett, of course, may well have been planning to campaign in Hartlepool – and was not one of the Labour MPs who last week refused to do so because of the well-known issues with the imposed candidate Paul Williams.
But within moments of Peacock’s tweet being posted, the attack on a senior Labour MP was ‘liked’ by a former senior staffer of Keir Starmer’s LOTO (leader of the opposition’s office) who now works for acting general secretary David Evans – and by another front-bench MP. More details of those figures will be published in an article later today, once they have had chance to respond to requests for comment.
One Labour MP told Skwawkbox:
These attacks are clearly coordinated by LOTO and entirely unmerited. Survation ran the poll, not Dave Ward – and it’s not as if Jon’s article was an attack on Keir. Steph Peacock’s own record on by-elections is hardly spotless, by the way. She didn’t even tweet about Copeland [the vital 2017 by-election].
The Copeland point appears to be accurate and was also picked up by others on social media in their responses to Peacock’s tweet – and Unite’s Howard Beckett, like many others, backed Trickett’s verdict that policies and clear thinking are vital if the people of Hartlepool are to have any faith in Labour:
In sharp contrast to the attack, Trickett has maintained a disciplined silence throughout today, focusing instead on attacking the Tories and on highlighting class divisions.
From the details of those who retweeted and liked the attacks, it’s clear that a number of senior right-wingers piled in to amplify the smears, suggesting that the assessment of Labour insiders is correct that the attacks were coordinated.
Policies, vision and authenticity are essential to Labour’s fortunes and not just in Hartlepool. Tragically, the leadership’s response to Trickett’s honest and constructive criticism and Ward’s union’s honest and disturbing poll suggests those features are still deeply lacking in Starmer’s Labour – and that bodes ill for the party in Hartlepool and everywhere else.
Instead of engaging constructively with critical friends, ‘LOTO’ is waging a totalitarian smear campaign that is achieving the opposite what any sensible leader would hope.
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