The Tel’s article, which told “Labour leadership contest: Cooper and Burnham camps declare death of ‘Taliban New Labour’ … Blairites’ bid to get Liz Kendall elected leader is declared a failure as campaign gets nasty”, was designed to do one thing, and one alone: to interfere in the Labour leadership election, by setting the various candidates’ camps against one another on what is rather obviously a false pretext.
“Taliban” is not merely a pejorative term; it is also a favoured means by which the press demonises its targets, as witness expressions like “Health and Safety Taliban” used in articles by, er, the Telegraph (see HERE). But its use here has had the desired effect: many Labour activists who should know better have taken it on trust, and, instead of debating the merits of the candidates, are aghast at the dead cat on the table.
So who is the beneficiary of “Taliban New Labour”? Ah well. Here I have to turn to my trusty friend Occam’s Razor. Who was the first with an interest in the Labour leadership contest to take to Twitter in condemnation? Step forward Mark Ferguson, at 0816 hours yesterday, telling “Another campaign has compared the @LizforLeader campaign to the Taliban. Some people are all class”. YOU’RE NICKED.
He was followed by John McTernan, at 0930, with “Charming description of party members who win elections as ‘Taliban’”, and Sebastian Payne of the Spectator - a personal friend of Ferguson - at 1134 hours with the shit-stirring “Update on ‘Taliban New Labour’ remarks: a source on Team Burnham says the comments came from Yvette Cooper's team”. It’ll be fun to see him standing that one up, too.