Voting is now underway in the latest Labour Party leadership election. It will be a straight fight between incumbent Jeremy Corbyn, and challenger Owen Smith, with Corbyn the strong favourite. The electorate is in the hundreds of thousands, so the result is more than likely going to be a majority - for whichever candidate - measured in the thousands, or even tens of thousands. Hang on to that thought.
At the same time, Labour is undertaking a process to ensure its membership actually consists of Labour Party supporters. Some applicants for membership are discovering that they have been rejected; others who had previously been members are being expelled. When your membership runs into the hundreds of thousands, and that membership is under constant media scrutiny, this is inevitable.
But for those at the staunchly Corbyn-supporting Canary, this is not a merely routine exercise, but a purge of the party faithful. It is evidence that dark forces are at work looking to disenfranchise Jezza’s fans and therefore to subvert democracy. To this end, the Canary’s Number 1 Corbyn backer Steve Topple has penned “Another Labour purge has begun, and this time it’s massive”. Yeah, y’know, it’s big … BIG. Really big.
“Countless members and potential members are being expelled or having their applications rejected … there appears to be no limit on who the party is willing to disenfranchise. Unless, of course, they are high profile members writing in right-wing newspapers … it appears many people are being denied membership on less than scrupulous grounds”. Something’s afoot, and it may not be twelve inches!
But do go on. “The Canary asked people to get in touch with their stories relating to the ‘purge’. And many came forward. Some felt angry. Others felt disappointed. Many were very upset. But the overwhelming feeling was one of confusion. Nearly 90 people got in contact, and most spoke to The Canary on condition of anonymity”. So how many specific cases can Topple muster in support of his “purge” idea?
Well, not that many. Even throwing in the case of Ronnie Draper, general secretary of a Labour-affiliated Trade Union, the number of individual cases does not get into double figures. Even if all of the “nearly 90” who got in touch were added into the mix, there would be no more than a hundred. A hundred cases in a party which numbers its current membership not in the hundreds, but the hundreds of thousands.
That does not stop Topple going into full tinfoil hat mode: “If you’re a grassroots member who says anything deemed inappropriate? Sorry. No vote allowed. But if you’re a political commentator writing in right-wing newspapers, or a senior party member? You can apparently say whatever you like … But don’t you dare support progressive ideas or stand up for what you think is right and just. If you do, you may also face the Labour purge”.
But not to worry - they’re not coming to get him, because he’s not paranoid.