Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Britain’s biggest trade union, Unite, raised eyebrows this week when he speculated that MI5 might be conspiring to tarnish the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. This was news to me. Admittedly, I don’t bother with Twitter, but as far as I could see, these slurs were entirely the work the Parliamentary Labour Party and their supporters. Anything that has been construed as vaguely threatening was instantly reported as death threat, and blamed on Corbyn, such is the authoritarian crybullying of Labour’s professional political class. The hand of the deep state, as far as I could see, was neither needed nor apparent… until this Sunday.
Firstly it must be said, because McCluskey’s comments have roused scorn in certain quarters, that anybody with the least knowledge of the trade union movement (or the intelligence services, for that matter) will know there is absolutely no question that during the Cold War it was infiltrated by police and the security service, working either as informants, agents, undercover officers, and agent provocateurs. This infiltration occurred over many, many years and sometimes at the highest levels. For example: Brian Nicholson, the former president of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, and a close ally of Neil Kinnock, was an MI5 informant. And Roger Windsor, the NUM’s chief executive during the miner’s strike, was regularly seeing a young woman called Stella Rimington. Len McCluskey spoke from institutional experience.
On the other hand, the PLP, in their effort to force Corbyn out, have really revealed their true colours. Accounts of death threats, hostility, aggression, violence, anti-Semitism, and Islamism have been fabricated in order to accuse the rank and file of their own party. Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire, who, when tweeted by a Bristol University student to “get in the sea”, reported it as a death threat – because “this person has just told me to drown and I believe that is a threat to kill”. Angela Eagle’s stalking-horse leadership bid had its launch meeting cancelled by the venue when the hotel she booked discovered who she was: her team blamed the change of venue on death threats from Corbyn supporters. She claimed Corbyn supporters bricked her office window: one window in the block her office occupied was broken in the middle of the night. It opened onto a communal stairway. Naturally, as New Labour do to everything, they turned it into a photo op.
Many politicians do this sort of thing nowadays, of course, it’s not just confined to Labour. After the vote on bombing Syria, the Tory MP for Telford, Lucy Allen, personally altered a Facebook message she’d received so she could tell everyone she’d been sent a death threat too. They’re all at it. Really we should be very worried that in an age of mass surveillance, detention without trial, and restricted speech our political class have decided that their biggest enemy is the electorate, but I digress. Can the deep state smear the Labour membership more malevolently than Labour MPs are? And why would they want to?
The alarmism of Labour MPs, no matter how dishonest and self-serving it is, forces the Security Service to do something. A few of these MPs are privy councillors. The defence of the realm comes into play. I realised the line had been crossed when I discovered that Omar Wahid had been pulled from his jihadi beat at the Mail on Sunday.
Wahid has filed nineteen pieces for the Mail since July 2015, although he has clearly written them for the MOD, SIS and MI5, who provide almost all of his sources and material. His output until now has been the usual propaganda about the dangers of Islamic extremism and how we’re defeating it both at home and in Middle East. Well not any more. Today the Mail printed two articles by Omar Wahid about Jeremy Corbyn supporters, whom Wahid described as another form of domestic extremism. You can read them here and here. The latter claims that Momentum is “described as Corbyn’s Praetorian Guard” (it doesn’t say by who); that it is “a hardline left-wing group” which has “secret links” with extremist Islamist organisations to “promote anti-Semitism” and “boost his support among Muslims.” It describes Momentum as a “cult-like cadre” having an “armed police” division and “a militant wing”. I have been to the odd Momentum meeting. Any Corbyn supporter – and there are a lot of them – knows that these articles are a disgrace. Yes, the Mail is a terrible right-wing paper, but what you must bear in mind is that Wahid is a client journalist of the intelligence community. This story comes from the same place as all his other stuff.
I don’t know how effective or widespread their efforts will be, but as regards the battle to take-down Corbyn, it’s clear the spooks now have some skin in the game.
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On a similar note, I see that our state broadcaster has been rather selective of the footage it chose to use when reporting Corbyn’s leadership rally in Salford today. They used a shot which portrayed his audience at about twentieth of its actual size. Come to think of it they did the same thing when he spoke at Cardiff last year. I was reminded of what they did to the footage of the Battle of Orgreave. Labour’s problems today are far different to those it faced in the early eighties, contrary to what people might try and tell you, but the deep state has grown exponentially since then.