Momentum could set up social media accounts to show leadership among their own supporters, but they choose not to
First published on Independent Voices
‘No one does it in my name’, says our dear leader over and over again. But it simply is not true. The Twitter feed and Facebook pages of Labour MPs are filled with people making horrid and threatening comments towards those who speak for Labour in parliament. Not just MPs. Sadiq Khan gets booed at Corbyn rallies – showing no respect for the mandate given to him by the people of London. People like Ayesha Harazika, Sonia Sodha and Johanna Baxter, who appear regularly in the media and are not total adherents to the dear leader, get told they should be deselected and face a torrent of abuse. In an interview coming out in the next edition of Progress magazine Hazarika tells me it only bothers her when she wakes up and finds they have been ‘at it all night’. She tells me her best friend would rather she ‘step back’ it has become so unpleasant.
Corbyn tells people to ignore it. He drafts statements for the National Executive Committee to pass while ignoring requests from women around the table who are near to tears to take steps that would make them feel safer. He makes proclamations is yet to do anything.
So what could he – and just does not – do?
First, he could give Compliance Unit and the party staff extra resources. Instead they get anonymous briefings. The fact that 150 former party staff feel the need to defend their successors in a letter to the Guardian is a sign that the party founded by trade unionists has lost its way in the name of hard-left politics. Party staff should be getting encouragement from the leader’s office, not leant on to let members of the Alliance of Workers’ Liberty off the hook. Justice and fair processes are not cheap, but this is ignored by a top team that would rather raise money for Stop the War Coalition than for Labour.
Second, Corbyn could call off the dogs. Mark Serwotka – general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (unaffiliated to the Labour party) – calls Neil Kinnock a ‘disgrace’ to Wales; David Ward – general secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union, who previously called Blairites a ‘virus’ – said some Labour MPs were ‘bloody Tories’; Matt Wrack – general secretary of the newly affiliated Fire Brigades Union – said Labour MPs want ‘lying dishonest leaders with no values’; John McDonnell calls his colleagues ‘f**king useless’, and thenlaughs it off. The event in question was a #JC4PM rally. It was literally in his name. But no reprimand ever came forward.
Third, Momentum or Corbyn for Labour – whatever the limited company is called these days – could set up social media accounts to show leadership among their own supporters. Called ‘Corbyn Against Hate’ or ‘Not in JC’s Name’, they could message leader-supporting haters with one simple message: ‘Delete your tweet’. They choose not to.
They refuse. Why? Peter Kyle explained it perfectly to George Eaton of the New Statesman: ‘What Jeremy does is, he stands passively by while bad things happen.’
This simply is not good enough. What is needed is action, not words.
Richard Angell is director of Progress