John McDonnell has issued an extraordinary warning to the Corbynite left that a “soft coup” is in progress to unseat Jeremy Corbyn. McDonnell accuses an alliance of Labour centrists and “the Murdoch media empire” of working “covertly” to undermine the leader, taking the unusual step of naming Sunday Times journalist James Lyons, suggesting Lyons has “regularly received leaks from within the Labour Party – usually used to attack Jeremy and his team“. The text appeared yesterday on the hard-left Labour Briefing website. Here are the key excerpts:
“WE HAVE TO ALERT PARTY MEMBERS and supporters that the soft coup is underway. It’s planned, co-ordinated and fully resourced. It is being perpetrated by an alliance between elements in the Labour Party and the Murdoch media empire, both intent on destroying Jeremy Corbyn and all that he stands for…
“The plotters are effective in distorting the media coverage because they have extensive contacts and allies in the media, many inherited from Mandelson’s days. The professional planning of interventions in which attacks to undermine Jeremy are framed evidences an exceptionally well resourced ‘dark arts’ operation of the old spin school.
“Both quantitative and qualitative polling is undertaken by the Party regularly under the direction of Jon Trickett, the Party’s National Campaign Co-ordinator. Jon arranged for one focus group to be carried out by the Party’s polling agency in Manchester to assess how our frontbench members appearing on television programmes at the time were being perceived in the north west. This polling took place back in November and its results were only accessible to a small number of party officials, Jon Trickett and the polling agency. To this day I have still not seen the results. The polling was leaked by someone to James Lyons, a Times journalist who has regularly received leaks from within the Labour Party – usually used to attack Jeremy and his team.
“The Murdoch media had already run earlier in the week fake news stories in The Times and Sun alleging that Jeremy was planning to stand down as leader of the Party… The media then invented the story that the polling on the perception of Shadow Cabinet members in the north west was the Party testing the perceptions of potential successors to Jeremy.
“…we can defeat the plotters again. This is the testing time for the Corbyn transformation. The challenges are great and the times are tough – but we all know that this is the socialist opportunity of a lifetime.”
UPDATE: McDonnell’s spokesman says:
“This article was written over a week ago in response to the intervention from Tony Blair. It was published in print last week and only went online last night. However, as John said yesterday he wants us all to focus on party unity following last week’s by-election results. And he is looking to reach out in the coming days to those across all sections of the party and none.”