Thursday, March 24, 2016

John Woodcock MP, and why Labour's 'fucking disaster' reflects badly on Blairites, not Corbyn

The Telegraph reports:

Jeremy Corbyn's PMQ's performance was an 'effing disaster' and David Cameron turned the Party into a laughing stock, according to one Labour MP.
John Woodcock accidentally tweeted out a private message on Twitter, which he has since deleted, saying: "F****** disaster. Worse week for Corbyn since he came in and that stupid f****** list makes us into a laughing stock."
The Prime Minister repeatedly mocked the Labour leader for a leaked ‘list’, which categorises Labour MPs by their loyalty to Corbyn. 

So who does this list incident reflect badly on?

1. Is there anything wrong with a Labour Party member drawing up a list of who can be more or less counted on amongst Labour MPs? Very sensible thing to do, surely. So the list does not reflect badly on whoever drew it up.

2. The list is pretty old, yet it gets leaked now, just as Corbyn gets a rise in the polls, just as the Tories take a very big hit, just before a PMQs when Cameron was likely to be in very serious trouble, and weeks before an election. Cameron flamboyantly waved the list around during PMQs and used it to cause maximum damage to Labour and distract attention away from his own Party's failings.

3. Who is most likely to be deeply anti-Corbyn, and have access to that list? The answer, surely, is a disgruntled Blairite. The list was probably passed around a group, one of whom then passed it to a friend, or had a secretary friendly with someone on the list, or it got attached to an email that was inadvertently copied to someone in the Labour Party that it shouldn't have been.

4. So the balance of probability is very much tipped toward a Blairite deliberately leaking the list at a key moment in order to help the Tories and do as much damage to Labour under Corbyn as possible - to make them 'a laughing stock', as Woodcock puts it.

In my opinion, this incident was indeed a fucking PR disaster, one for which Blairites are almost certainly to blame.

Ironic then that one of the Blairites - John Woodcock MP - privately tweets to a journalist that it's a 'fucking disaster', presumably to further damage Corbyn ('Labour insiders furious a 'disaster' says MP!'). Only he inadvertently tweets publicly so we can all see what he's up to.

There appear to be Blairite MPs who will help the Tory party when it's in trouble in order to cause damage to Labour under Corbyn. As I say, if the party contains such traitors, it seems wise for the Labour leadership to keep a record of who they are.

POSTSCRIPT: OK I am over-egging it when I say 'almost certainly' a Blairite. But still, given the timing suggests a deliberately timed leak by a political opponent and that the opponents into whose hands such a document is most likely to fall are the Blairites, I think the probability is it is a Blairite leak.

Photo and report in The Independent here.


Toby said...

You make some good points here, and I write as someone who thinks Jeremy Corbyn is "a fucking disaster" for the Labour Party. There is nothing wrong with the leadership keeping lists like this. The Whips do it all the time. John Major knew who his "bastards" were. Blair/Brown/Campbell could be obsessive over this kind of thing.

Your main point hinges on the idea that the list was leaked to damage Corbyn by those in the Labour Party hostile to him. This may be the case, but there is no evidence for it. If they are so hostile to JC why did his inner circle let the "hostiles" get hold of it? If it was a mistake on their part, that's as bad as it being left in a Commons Bar?

Your secondary point is that the motivation is to damage JC just when he's appearing popular. One point (lead for the Labour Party) in one opinion poll is not his ratings taking off. At this point in the last Parliament Ed Miliband's Labour was about 8 points ahead. And we know how that ended. In all other areas, polling around JC is dire. On leadership, trust, the economy, and security.

Yes, if a hostile had the list and if they thought JC was doing too well and if they thought the best course for their career prospects was to make him look bad at this exact moment they might have leaked it. But equally, it could have been left in a bar.

Stephen Law said...

Sure, it is possible that the source of the leak was someone other than a Blairite. But I think that is by far the most likely source. I'd be prepared to bet good money on it, at least. PS I didn't say Corbyn appears 'popular'. But he is getting a lift in two recent polls. And we are approaching an election. And the list just happens to be released at the worst possible moment for him and the party.

Toby said...

Take your point about "popular" vs "lift in the polls", sorry. I agree with this article: Tory failure is not the same as Labour success.

Of course, from the point of view of those who think that the best chance of a Labour Govt is to get Corbyn out before he damages the Party's prospects further, leaking would be justified if it meant he was ousted sooner. I don't think it will make much difference. Corbyn will probably be challenged sooner rather than later becuase of the steady drip, drip, drip of bad moments: anti-semitic supporters, open goals missed at PMQs, obsessing over Trident, etc, etc.

Personally, I'm still not convinced that it was leaked. Cock-up as likely as conspiracy. But we will probably never know.

Adam said...

Hi Stephen.

I’m a little surprised by your confident conclusion to the cumulative argument being presented here (even with the postscript). I’m no philosopher, but it seems to me that argument goes something like this:

1. There are both sensible and spurious reasons for this list existing.

(I agree, but irrelevant to the conclusion - not that you say it is)

2. The timing of the leak is suspicious – presented in a way that assumes there are points in political time where it would be harder, maybe even impossible, to draw in a qui bono hypothesis for ‘why now?’

(At best, the timing is suspicious, no more no less; but then so would it be, to a larger or lesser extent, a year from today for reasons yet unidentified.)

3. A range of personalities and ideological/pragmatic views are represented within the Labour Party, but one particular narrow category of politician is ‘surely’ most likely responsible (for reasons that are assumed). The list then got passed to someone it should’nt have done, for the usual modern reasons.

(The ‘sure’ answer surely isn’t ‘sure’?? ‘Likely’ at best, but maybe not even that unless Blairism is the only plausible public or private reason for a Labour party member or employee to take issue with Corbyn’s leadership?)

4. Even though premises 2 and 3 are far from certain (you may disagree), the balance of probability is ‘very much‘ tipped towards a certain narrow category of politician leaking the list at a uniquely key political moment to damage the current leadership.

I suppose I can’t see why relative uncertainty, piled on relative uncertainty, can produce near certainty. It seems to me that best we can assume is that someone who either (a) actively seeks to damage the current leadership, or (b) cares little enough about the current leadership to damage it for their own personal (maybe financial) gain, gained access to the list somehow, and leaked it somehow. Any other layer of specifics we want to add into this surely increases the improbability – so you can perhaps see why I’m struggling to accept your very high confidence levels and language on this?

Thanks for your time.

legal service provider said...

Corbyn will probably be challenged sooner rather than later becuase of the steady drip, drip, drip of bad moments: anti-semitic supporters, open goals missed at PMQs, obsessing over Trident, etc