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Sunday 3 July 2016

Corbyn Portland Conspiracy Isn’t

As the stand-off in the Labour Party between most of their MPs on the one side, and party leader Jeremy Corbyn, supported by many of the members on the other, continues with no end yet in sight that does not involve Corbyn stepping down, a great deal of internal strife, or a combination of both, those on both sides of the argument have been out in force on the Sunday morning politics shows setting out their stalls.
Nowhere was the divide better shown than on The Andy Marr Show (tm), where first former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, and then Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union, were given the opportunity to put their case. Kinnock was sure that Labour’s rules - which he briefly read from - meant even Corbyn would have to secure sufficient nominations from MPs and MEPs to get on another leadership ballot.

But then McCluskey not only disagreed with Kinnock, he claimed that PR company Portland Communications was part of the plot against Corbyn. Marr allowed him to have his say, but many watching would have been left in a state of disbelief.

At this point, those who unswervingly back Corbyn need to understand that some of the wilder conspiracy theories going the rounds are pure speculation. Both the Portland connection, and that involving the Fabian Society, fall into that category.

Let us consider the Fabians first. Some of those who have resigned from the shadow cabinet may be members of that society. Some outside the Parliamentary party who are passing adverse comment on Corbyn’s leadership may also be members. This does not mean the Fabians are organising anything. The Fabians have shown themselves to be not very good at organising anything of late. This is unlikely to have changed overnight.

What, then, of Portland? There are many in and around Portland Communications who were formerly involved in some way with the Labour Party when Tony Blair was leading it. That does not mean there is a Blairite plot. Many former spinners have gravitated to PR work in the days since Blair left 10 Downing Street. So have those who span for the Tories and other parties. So have many journalists. That is all.

Yes, this dead horse has been flogged ad nauseam by The Canary, and I hate to have to bring bad news to another blog - for that is all it is - but they are seeing something that is not there. Believing that having Alastair Campbell as a consultant - who is, to no surprise at all, not a Corbyn supporter - means something underhand is going on is to fall into the same trap as papers like the Daily Mail. Would Corbyn supporters believe them?

Seriously, Corbyn supporters, you need to listen up. There are those in the Parliamentary party and elsewhere who are opposed to the current Labour leadership. But there is no organised Fabian Society action. And there is absolutely no Portland Communications involvement. It isn’t there. It’s not happening. You need to get real.

And to The Canary I say only this: there are other ways to get clicks. Stop being silly.


Paul Ewart said...

The Fabians have shown themselves to be not very good at organising anything of late. This is unlikely to have changed overnight.

More grist to the mill, surely?

mr rudeforth said...

But the plot is real, and it has been planned for a while, though the Fabian-like dreadfulness of its organisation has been both fun and depressing to watch as it drags the party daily through the mire as the lack of a plan B continues to weigh heavy on the chicken-coup

willshome said...

And what of Tom Mauchline?

rob said...

With both main Parties having power struggles within, politicians flipflopping at the drop of a hat on Brexit at the potential sight of a leadership bid, with distortions and misinformation intertwined with lack of real substantiated evidence in the media it is no wonder that the electorate as a whole feel bewildered and confused as to what is going on.

Only constant seems to be independence for the Scots and potential break up of union.

Oh yes, the other constant - lack of Plan Bs all round. Not great for future prospects whoever comes out on top in either English Party.

Libby said...

I accept that Labour MPs have genuine concerns - but the business of people resigning every hour certainly looked like a PR stunt - and by that I mean it looks like that to the general public, too, not just to Corbyn supporters. The claims that Corbyn did badly in the referendum campaign also seem scarcely credible. Understandably, Labour MPs are genuinely worried that Corbyn can't win an election - and it sounds as though he's a lousy people manager. However, it's also easy to see why Corbyn supporters are so angry and feel MPs are not respecting members' wishes.

J said...

I agree with you, and I don't.

There may well be conflation (in much the same way people add up the numbers of people who voted for a party/mp, make 9 willion and then compare that to the numbers of votes specifically given to Corbyn during the election leadership) that this is an organised coup (1), from various media bodies that have links to various people.

But that is not to say that some heavily reported events have not had people involved that looks dodgy. The heckler at the Gay pride rally, being part of the PR firm (2); the two people standing besides the guy with the t-shirt, being Anna Philips (employee of progress) and Lewis Parker (creative stratigist and social media Guru) (3) and then the other heckler who turned out to be from the lib-dumbs. All three events strongly reported. And not forgetting the lunge, what wasn't; and the anti-Semitism (at the press conference into Labour anti-Semitism), that wasn't.

(1) If they had had any nouce, they would have attacked the tories loudly and consistently over Brexit and chucked in a few platitudes about anti-austerity and other "left wing" things... but done it with one single choice of their own, then when things calmed down they could have said "well look, it was X that made all the big hits while Corbyn faffed so we should replace Corbyn with X" and then put it to a vote - that could have worked very well; people like a good show. Even if it had failed, it would have set things up nicely for the real preferred candidate (in much the same way Kinnock was the fall guy)

But no, what they came up with was "lets do shit, screw up the Labour party, take the heat from the Conservatives, and hope that we can shame or bully Corbyn into quitting..."
But then it all went tits up when he stayed so now it's turned into a non stop media shitfest with the PLP doing more damage, and both sides (well the PLP v the Members) have entrenched (although Corbyn has offered an olive branch).

I guess the long questions will be, can enough negative press stories be released to get Corbyn to quit or will enough damage be done to his standing with the members to allow a challenger to win (or at least make the vote close, so he continues in a much weakened position - create the doubt, "well if he only just won the leadership, then he will not do well in an election" in the minds of the members and Corbyn himself).

Well we will see what happens on Monday, because if a challenger is not put up then the coup plotters could be the ones looking weak ("well if they can't even agree who to stand, or if someone should stand, then what chance have any of them in winning an election")... they could even just run a challenger who will lose, then go back to plotting as before as one of the reasons put forward for this cockup and its suddenness, and weak argument, was that "Corbyn did bad in the referendum by doing much better than Cameron in the remain/leave split" was due to the issue of a snap election (which is looking less likely - unless its a double bluff by the tories and there will be one).

However, even that makes no sense as if there was a snap election Labour would lose no matter who won the leadership contest (or even if Corbyn had stood down when it kicked off) due to this coup. What ever happens, this coup has been farcical from start to (when ever it happens) finish... unless it was always intended to go really badly and be drawn out (they knew Corbyn would not stand down) and there is more to this, and a longer play, than is apparent... but that would be to put on a tinfoil hat according to some... at which point it all becomes a cyclic and reductive argument.

To be continued... (but hopefully not much longer, one way or another).

(2) https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/06/news-agenda-set/
(3) https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/06/another-media-setup/

J said...

I would also like to add, to my previous comment, is the case of the bizzare and strange article in the Torygraph that told of the coup, and (before it was amended) how it was to be a 24 hour news blitz with resignations on the hour and negative stories.

I still don't see what the hell that article was all about, surely if you are going to plot a coup the last thing you would do is actually have the tory press know it was going to happen, and how, and to publish the modus-operandi a couple of weeks before doing so.

Dated 13th June : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/13/labour-rebels-hope-to-topple-jeremy-corbyn-in-24-hour-blitz-afte/

And this on the 3rd of May : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/03/revealed-plot-to-oust-jeremy-corbyn-by-using-veteran-labour-mp-m/

Both articles, with hindsight, now seem to have layed out exactly what happened...

What the hell!

I am not one to wear a tinfoil hat, but the above two articles just seem bizzare with what has since happened. Did they know, guess, or was the idea to give the plotters ideas.

No seriously WTAFF!

Anonymous said...


Are you seriously claiming there is NO plot to remove Corbyn? That all of these people have appeared spontaneously and without communication and agreement with each other? That New Labour itself wasn't the most disgusting traitorous plot of all, a plot that attempted to gut the Labour movement of everything it stands for? If it wasn't the latter, why bother to rip up the party constitution - a document that gave the movement its main moral prestige - and replace it with that tenth rate trollop, that invention of right wing pr liars, Tony Blair?

If that is indeed what you're claiming then, frankly, you're living in cloud cuckoo land. Or maybe even in cloud Canary land (a place I haven't visited incidentally). Because that just isn't the way political life works, never has, never will. Political life is inextricably conspiratorial; how else do you think co-operation and organisation works?

The difference is this: When New Labour lied and corrupted its way to power the Left conceded democratically despite its misgivings. Now the Left is making a mild resurgence, the Right makes no such concession even though party membership has told them clearly what it wants. And it isn't New Labour.

The result is a caravan of barrow boy sell-out spivs like "Lord" Kinnock, Mandelson, Campbell, Brown, Benn, Hodge and all the other sordid remnants bleating through far right mainstream media more than delighted to help them with their attacks. By comparison, the grass roots receives virtually no coverage and has little effective organisation EXCEPT FOR ITS VOTING POWER. It's the latter which scares New Labour and its puppets shitless, the tories too.

This kind of grass roots response is always untidy and visceral. Spontaneity - the sense that Fuck This, I've Had Enough - is always so. It may take some time to take a more coherent form, but don't kid yourself there won't be internal attempts to sabotage it. Most of all, don't kid yourself the New Labour MPs aren't what they've always been: right wing opportunists out to feather their own nests either with power or money - Labour has been dogged by that mentality since its inception.

Whatever happens, Corbyn represents an underlying decency amongst people that won't go away. Sure it will suffer setbacks. The last 37 years have been nothing but a series of such. But eventually it will organise more solidly and become much more effective. This will only be delayed, never destroyed.

Right now there is a plot, a coup, to remove Jeremy Corbyn by less than two hundred people who have proved themselves useless at representing and defending those who put them there. They are a disgrace to democracy, never mind the history of the Labour Party. Nor do they have any shame.

If you cannot recognise the truth of this seedy anti-democratic plot you will only help it. It's up to you.

I know whose side I'm on.

Man From Atlan said...

You might be right it is all just a coincidence that many Labour PR hacks are at Portland Communications. I agree The Canary hasn't proved existence of a plot. But there are a lot of interesting links http://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/30/pr-company-manufactured-labour-coup-part-i/ they came up with.

I may have spent way more time investigating the Meredith Kercher Murder (disclosure: I'm an editor at http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/Main_Page) and Madeleine McCann cases than I should have, but I did learn through that how much a PR agency can amplify a media message. I doubt Rupert Murdoch takes instruction from Portland Communications, Lol, and even if they take instruction from the likes of Blair or any other Labour Grandees or Press Baron, that hasn't been proven.

So, no Fabian Society conspiracy then.

Anonymous said...

Another peice of a murky jigsaw-

According to Whois documentation the domain Angela4leader.org was registered 2 days BEFORE Angela Eagle resigned.

The registrant is Joe McCrea, a PR exec that had close links to Downing St during Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell's tenure.

By concentrating a debate purely on Portland Comminications distracts the wider issue of the sinister role PR companies have had in Westminster issues. That is essentially a fundamental question about democracy.