The Murdoch Sunday Times knew who they were taking on when they gave a berth to Andrew “Transcription Error” Gilligan. He lost the BBC one of its best-regarded Directors General - and, for a time, much of its credibility - and cost the Sunday Telegraph around £650,000 just before they let him go, after he libelled businessman Mujibul Islam over the obsessive pursuit of former Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman.
Gilligan would have cost the Sunday Tel rather more, if Byline Media and campaigning group Hacked Off had had the means to take the paper to the cleaners over The Great Man’s hatchet job on them over the John Whittingdale story. So when Gilligan’s name appeared on the by-line of the ST’s lead today, it will come as no surprise that few took the story seriously. Because it was a prize whopper, a complete pack of lies.
Under the dramatic headline “Corbyn allies plot to oust 50 Labour MPs … Secret hitlist of moderates for deselection”, we see just how credible Gilligan’s latest claim really is.
Let’s start at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start. “Up to 50 Labour MPs are on a deselection hit list drawn up by left-wing supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, it has been claimed”. “Up to” 50, which includes the number Zero. And “it has been claimed”, meaning a single, anonymous source. In other words, made up.
Do go on. “Moderate Labour MPs have been warned that Corbyn’s allies want centrist candidates replaced with more left-leaning ones”. No citation, and there won’t be one.
Ready to be hauled in there, eh Andy?
Have another go. “Chris Leslie, the former shadow chancellor, and Hilary Benn, the former shadow foreign secretary, are believed to top the list”. Believed. By whom? Don’t ask. “Angela Eagle, who challenged Corbyn for the leadership in 2016, and her sister Maria Eagle, the former shadow culture secretary, are also thought to be vulnerable”. Thought to be vulnerable. One anonymous source. And it gets worse.
“‘Allies of Corbyn have admitted they have a list of MPs they want to get rid of’, said a source”. A source. Gilligan looking in the mirror, was it? Then comes the dead cat.
“The disclosure [!] comes as three Momentum-backed candidates, including its founder Jon Lansman, were elected to Labour’s national executive committee last week”. So what? Three new members of the NEC means only that there are three new members of the NEC. How on earth can it then mean there is a plot against 50 Labour MPs? It can’t.
What else has Gilligan managed to dredge up in his fruitless search for credibility? Well, someone put an item on the agenda for discussion by Haringey Labour Party. And someone else was not convinced by evidence that Bashar al-Assad’s forces were using chemical weapons on their own people. But that was in 2013, and Gilligan hasn’t bothered asking the same person their views now. That’s how rubbishy his article is.
Andrew Gilligan is not known as “Gilligoon” for nothing. He’s a crude propagandist, as his shilling for London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson shows. His attention to detail is laughably bad, as the Hutton Inquiry exposed. And as Momentum’s statement shows - “We are not campaigning for the deselection of any sitting MP” - he’s talking complete crap here. So no change there, then.