Tendance Coatesy

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Corbyn and McDonnell Faced “hundreds” of incidents of Factionalist Obstruction – Joe Ryle.

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Who is the worst threat to Labour over the leaked report on right ...
Labour Needs to Turn its Back on All Factionalism.

Today a disturbing account of how the factional opponents of Jeremy Corbyn reacted to his leadership of the Labour Party has been published.

I saw from the inside how Labour staff worked to prevent a Labour government

The work of senior Labour staffers to stop Labour winning is only just starting to come out.

Joe Ryle Open Democracy.

Ryle has a background in climate activism and took up work for John McDonnell and Labour ” mostly unaware of all its different political affiliations and factions”.

The Evening Standard (February the 23rd 2016)  reported,

Joe Ryle helped organise for activist group Momentum in London, where some MPs fear it is behind attempts to deselect them.

He also played an active role in aviation campaign group Plane Stupid, with whom he was arrested after a protest at Stansted Airport.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell under fire for employing Momentum and Plane Stupid activist

Ryle may have been aware of Labour’s factionalism because he had been a Green Party member, and Press Officer, for Keith Taylor Green Party MEP (South East England).

GIven the way the Green Party, and the European Parliament, operate,  was it surprising to find this? ” We were in for quite a shock when we were confronted with the machine of Labour HQ.”

This tweet from John McDonnell indicates that his work was appreciated.


The story that has just broken will unsettle anybody, even to those familiar with machine politics.


Joe Ryle states,

Some of the behaviour of senior officials at Labour HQ has already been documented in the 860-page leaked Labour report. But there’s a lot more that went on behind the scenes and I think it’s important that people have the whole story.

There is plenty of detail to back his account up.

The most shocking sabotage I personally witnessed was an encounter with the notoriously difficult regional offices who were often the most ideologically opposed to the Corbyn regime. At my request, attempts were made to organise a rally for John McDonnell via one of the regional offices. Given that John was one of the most senior members of the shadow cabinet, I expected my request to be met with enthusiasm.

When I found out that the location they had chosen was in the middle of nowhere I was left flabbergasted. I was told this tactic had been used before – apparently to avoid lots of members showing up and being won round by the new regime.

There were hundreds more incidents like this that I’m aware of; press releases regularly blocked from going out, staff members briefing against Corbyn’s office, weekly planning grids leaked including the 2019 General Election grid, an almost constant refusal to share content on the party’s social media platforms and the coordination of staff resignations to damage the party. As a political first, the party’s 2017 manifesto was also infamously leaked.

Ryle continues,

.On the night of the 2017 General Election I was in the press team at the party’s HQ. I’ll never forget the deathly silence and the looks on the faces of those staffers that we knew to have been plotting against Corbyn since day one. While we celebrated robbing Theresa May of her majority, party staffers mourned in the room next door: “they are cheering and we are silent and grey faced. Opposite to what I had been working towards for the last couple of years!!, one senior staffer allegedly wrote on WhatsApp that night, according to the leaked report.

This is serious account from somebody who is well-regarded as a party worker.

It needs a proper response.

Factionalism amongst opponents of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell was rife in  key Labour Party structures.

We need to end Labour factionalism, Keir Starmer has said.

That means all. factionalism.

But is this true?

The number of extra votes in marginal seats that Labour needed in 2017 to give Corbyn a chance of being prime minister was an agonising 2,227. This will forever remain a sore point for many of us. Because as the leaked report exposed – we know that in 2017 party resources never reached many of the winnable seats that they should have, with allies of the small faction in party HQ standing in safe seats seen as the first priority.


Without the actions of this small group of highly experienced saboteurs, I genuinely believe we would now be three years into a Labour government investing in our NHS and public services – an outcome which surely would have better prepared the country for the Coronavirus pandemic.

The idea that Labour came within a whisker of winning in 2017 is simply not true.

NIck Tyrone, no doubt a factional opponent of the left,  points out,

No, Labour did not almost win the 2017 general election. Here’s a breakdown of why – and why this is important

I’ll give the Corbynistas their precious 2,227 votes exactly where they need them so they can take those seven seats off the Tories by one vote each. For the sake of what follows, they are theirs. So, what happens if Labour gets those seven seats off the Conservatives in 2017? They won the election then, right? No, not even remotely close.

An extra seven seats would have given Labour 269, which if you are a keen observer of British politics you will note would still have put Labour someways off the 326 needed to have an outright majority in parliament and even way short of the 321 needed for a nominal majority when Sinn Fein, the speaker, etc are taken out of the equation. More than 50 seats short in fact, which is a strange way to call something a victory. So, what the hell are the Corbynistas on about then? Well, remember they took these seven seats off of the Tories, which means instead of the 317 the Conservatives actually ended up with, they now have 310. Even hooking up with the DUP only collectively gets them 320. If you add Labour’s 269 to the SNP’s 35, the Lib Dems 12, Plaid Cymru’s 4 and Caroline Lucas, you get 321. A one seat majority over the Tory-DUP configuration! Which means Corbyn would have been prime minister! Right?


Written by Andrew Coates

August 7, 2020 at 11:17 am

11 Responses

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  1. Yes, the factionalism of the Labour right during the Corbyn years needs to be exposed and – if necessary – disciplinary action taken. But the idea that the right’s factionalism was the cause of our defeat in 2017 is simply … cobblers.

    Jim Denham

    August 7, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    • The idea that Labour Party staffers cost us the election is cobblers, sure. The idea that the Labour right, primarily in the PLP, did so by their very public display of outrage and rebellion at the very notion of a Corbyn leadership holds a lot more water.

      If unity isn’t important electorally, why are the party right banging on about it so relentlessly now?

      Ted Alleyne

      August 9, 2020 at 12:07 pm

  2. Reblogged this on Tory Britain!.


    August 7, 2020 at 12:19 pm

  3. So, Andrew,

    Are you really suggesting that in those conditions the Lib-Dems, SNP, Plaid and Greens would have backed the Tories rather than Labour? Do you think they could have done that without destroying themselves and the Tories, certainly making Brexit impossible for the Tories, and another election in which Labour would have been in prime position almost inevitable?


    August 7, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    • In this hypothetical one seat majority, with the continuing presence of hard-line Labour leavers you mean….

      Andrew Coates

      August 7, 2020 at 3:26 pm

      • Andrew Coates

        August 7, 2020 at 3:34 pm

        • Latest in this story:

          The article shows delusional thinking, from justified complaints at the behaviour of obstructive factional officials it moves into the claim that Labour would have won if they had not systematically worked to sabotage Labour’s election chances.

          Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of us were involved in that campaign. We went around the streets to houses, talked to voters and the rest.

          Locally, in Ipswich, I can not remember any “sabotage” of the campaign – were the party offices in Silent Street Ipswich paralleled by a ““shadow operation”” aimed at “starving potential target seats of money” to try to stop Sandy getting elected?

          The charges they make are full of this kind of stuff.

          Andrew Coates

          August 7, 2020 at 7:52 pm

          • Really Andrew,

            You were not aware of any kind of sabotage in 2017? You were not aware of all of the attempts to remove Corbyn prior to 2017, the repeated visitations to hostile TV stations, at every opportunity to slag off the Labour leadership, to promote conspiracy theories about Trotskyist infiltation amounting to hundreds of thousands of members, of campaigns of intimidation and violence, and posting dead birds twice over, of smashing office windows in Wallassey, or of visitations to the Daily Telegraph and other Tory house journals with the same purpose?

            This is sounding a bit like Bernard Shaw’s visit to Stalin’s Russia in reverse! Did you not see the TV documentary following the Labour candidates like Kinnock and Co, around during the election campaign when they were virtually openly praying for a heavy defeat so as to remove Corbyn, and the whiteness of their faces, and loss for words, when they found all of their efforts had turned to dust?

            I’m not a fan of Corbyn, and his pro-Brexit stance, and less still of the Stalinist entourage that created this mess, but I’m even less a fan of all those Blair-rights that created an even bigger mess that led into the 2008 financial meltdown by continuing Thatcherite economic polices that relied on inflating asset prices, and less still of the Blair-rights that acted as Fifth Columnists putting their own petty factional interest above those of the party and the working-class. You may be prepared to close you eyes to that betrayal, I’m not.


            August 8, 2020 at 5:28 pm

            • Boffy, I spent a whole section saying that the account of what happened nationally rings true. I say that not off the top of my head but because I have had contact with some of the people who report this, and I believe them. Right-wing factionalists are there, and not hard to meet. It’s up to Labour now to decide on what happened.

              But the claims now being made are a lot wider: that there was a whole “shadow” operation inside the Labour Party itself to sabotage Labour’s election campaign, which was the principal cause of the election defeat. There is little evidence of this on the ground.

              I have not heard the dead bird story, or the windows smashed in Wallasey, no doubt serious acts by the Diversion, Wrecking and Sabotage parallel centre.

              That Labour was on the brink of securing victory (plainly false as the lengthy statistician’s article shows).

              I did note that with Corbyn well in charge there was a feeble, nearly non-existent, campaign for the European Elections. One might assume that pro-Brexit forces (Milne, Murray at the very least) had something to do with this lack of interest.

              One would also have to be exceptionally indulgent not to see their, and allies, own factionalising at work.

              THere is a fair amount of evidence of the centrists’ active campaign against Labour in December 2019, but then a whole group of them were already outside of the Labour Party.

              This was a campaign which normally would have depended heavily on the national party.

              The General Election in 2017 did not have to rely on this. It is hard to see whatever the Anti-Labour Parallel Centre did having a decisive effect on the result in the ballot box.

              Andrew Coates

              August 8, 2020 at 6:50 pm

      • Yes, in that situation, in which the number of hard line Labour Leave MP’s were outnumbered by the number of hard-line pro-Remain Tory MP’s, by about 5-1, yes! In that situation where, the Labour leave MP’s had they chosen to cross the floor would have committed hari-kiri, whilst all the Tory Remainers need have done was abstain.

        Yes, in those conditions, do you not think that a Corbyn Labour Minority government would have been inevitable? Do you not at least think that May could not have governed, or obtained a majority for pushing through Article 50, because for Labour to have had any chance of gaining the backing of Liberals, SNP etc. it too would have had to have stiffened its anti-Brexit position.

        At the very least Brexit would have been stopped, so that what the Blair-right wreckers and Fifth Columnists actually achieved was not just stopping Corbyn getting elected, but also ensured that Brexit went ahead, and indeed, ultimately put Johnson in No 10. Such is the trajectory of all past Popular fronts, declared or undeclared with the representatives of the bourgeoisie. They always end up failing to achieve their own objectives and in a victory for reaction.

        I find it amazing that anyone can want to simply sweep under the carpet the role of those wreckers and Fifth Columnists. Its as if following a battle, it was discovered that the backroom staff in the war office were all agents of the enemy, and having discovered that, everyone were to say, well never mind that, because that battle is all in the past, and we have to look to future battles, and besides the generals were a bit crap too, even if they were at least not agents of the enemy!


        August 8, 2020 at 5:18 pm

  4. Andrew,

    “I have not heard the dead bird story, or the windows smashed in Wallasey, no doubt serious acts by the Diversion, Wrecking and Sabotage parallel centre.”

    So, you did not see John Mann on TV and in the newspapers raise that story, or him stand up in parliament to relate that story, in relation to the role of Momentum??? You did not see Angela Eagle repeatedly on the TV talking about the window of her constituency office being broken and inferring that it was down to some Corbyn supporter without any evidence whatsoever?

    You are quite right that Labour could not have won an outright majority in 2017, but that is not the point, as I’ve set out. The point is could they have prevented the Tories having a majority, and thereby forced the SNP, Liberals et al to back a Corbyn Minority government which itself would have had to abandon Brexit.

    On Brexit, you miss out that Corbyn appointed arch Blair-right Alan Johnson to lead the campaign, who then promptly disappeaared from sight!!! If you want evidence of sabotage look no further than that. But, of course what that actually also shows is the lunacy of trying to think that some form of Popular Front can be formed with those right-wingers in the search for an illusory unity.

    As for what an alternative centre did not having a local effect that relies on a belief that elections are won by what happens in the local constituency, which all evidence shows is only marginal. What determines elections is what influences the views of the electorate as a whole, and this is a function of what happens nationally. With two years of sabotage and coup attempts, with the right and soft left continually on TV continually attacking Corbyn and talking about Trotskyist takeovers, with CLP election results being overturned by the party bureaucracy, and local MP’s on the doorstep telling voters that they could vote for them knowing they would not back Corbyn to be PM, I am frankly amazed that you cannot put all this together to see that it would have a considerable effect.


    August 9, 2020 at 11:56 am

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