Now that we know the extent of the sabotage Jeremy Corbyn faced, the 2017 general election result is all the more extraordinary.
A Labour insider claims the party’s HQ only pretended to carry out some online campaigns for the leadership during the election. These included voter registration drives. Instead, Labour officials paid Facebook to ensure that ads only showed up on the timelines of Corbyn, his advisers, and some journalists sympathetic to their policy platform. The aim was to convince the Labour leadership that they’d carried out its wishes, according to the source.
A new book – Ctrl Alt Delete: How Politics and the Media Crashed Our Democracy – has revealed this deception. It quotes a Labour official who said:
They wanted us to spend a fortune on some schemes like the one they had to encourage voter registration, but we only had to spend about £5,000 to make sure Jeremy’s people, some journalists and bloggers saw it was there on Facebook.
And if it was there for them, they thought it must be there for everyone. It wasn’t. That’s how targeted ads can work.
In response, former Jeremy Corbyn spokesperson Matt Zarb-Cousin said:
Imagine if the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party] and party staffers just got on with their jobs, we might actually be in government now.
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Labour HQ diverted funding
There were three separate Labour campaigns during the general election: the grassroots one via Momentum, the leadership’s (out of Corbyn’s office), and the Labour bureaucracy’s. It appears the latter may have cost Labour the general election.
The problem went beyond individual acts of sabotage. Labour officials also diverted core funding during the election to the detriment of the party. The bureaucracy took a defensive attitude that potentially cost key seats, as Jacobin reported:
Fabian Hamilton, who already had a majority over seven thousand received not one but two organizers, while the next door marginal of Pudsey had none. The result is that Hamilton’s majority is now a staggering seventeen thousand, to no benefit of the wider aim of a Labour government, while the Labour Party lost Pudsey by 331 votes.
This was replicated elsewhere, leaving “safe seats spectacularly over-resourced”, and reducing some marginal campaigns to “swiping materials” because they “couldn’t afford posters”.
“Co-operative party machine”
Corbyn’s electoral performance has enabled the ongoing reform of party structures. It’s also secured a general secretary who supports the leadership. Responding to the revelations of digital sabotage, a Labour source told the Sunday Times:
Despite fighting with one hand tied behind our backs by some uncooperative senior staff, we achieved the largest increase in the Labour vote since 1945. At the next election, we’ll have a fantastic and co-operative party machine to match our incredible mass membership and popular policies.
In 2017, Momentum and the leadership fought an election completely out of sync with Labour’s bureaucracy. On top of that, it appears party officials were deceiving the leadership to effectively undermine the campaign.
Despite that, Corbyn’s platform still brought a progressive government closer to victory than at any point in recent history. With Labour increasingly in better internal shape, it’s no wonder the Conservatives are terrified of a general election.
– If you are a Labour member, you can sign the letter calling for an investigation into the digital sabotage.
Featured image via Sophie Brown/ WikiCommons
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