Emails show Corbynites pushed election resources to support allies

EXCLUSIVE: Despite a huge majority in 2015, resources were targeted at John Trickett, a key Corbyn ally


Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign team openly pushed general election resources ahead of the 2017 poll towards MP allies of the former leader, such as Jon Trickett – even though he had secured a commanding majority in his seat just two years earlier.

The JC understands that emails confirm that Mr Trickett – who has defended Mr Corbyn over antisemitism allegations -  was one of those singled out for thousands of pounds of advertising spend with local newspapers in his constituency to boost their campaign ahead of the June 2017 election.

Just two years earlier the MP had secured a commanding 12,000 vote majority in the Yorkshire seat of Hemsworth, which has long been considered one of Labour’s safest.

But Labour sources have confirmed to the JC that emails show how senior figures working for Mr Corbyn’s 2017 election campaign were amongst those pushing party officials at Labour headquarters to spend more on Mr Trickett’s seat in 2017.

They include plans from Mr Corbyn’s team for placing costly wrap-around advertisements in the three local papers than serve the Hemsworth seat.

The emails also support claims that MPs seen as being disloyal to the leadership did not have similar resources given to them despite facing toucher electoral challenges.

In the nearby seat of Wakefield, Labour MP Mary Creagh struggled to hold her seat at the 2017 election, winning by just 2000 votes.

A spokesperson for Mr Trickett said: ”The 2017 Hemsworth campaign spent significantly less than the statutory spending cap and received no special additional central funding."

It is also claimed that the campaign referred to the JC was part of a large scale publicity campaign supporting candidates all over the country.  

In this specific instance, it covered four neighbouring constituencies: Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Morley and Outwood, Wakefield and Hemsworth.

The newspapers concerned are also distributed in parts of Barnsley, Kirklees and Leeds, thereby covering other candidates.

Last week former shadow minister Mr Trickett’s name was revealed to be alongside Mr Corbyn’s and several other key allies in a submission sent to the inquiry into the leaking of an internal Labour report into antisemitism allegations.

In their submission to the probe, headed by Martin Forde QC, they wrote: “It’s not impossible that Jeremy Corbyn might now be in his third year as a Labour prime minister” had not disgruntled party officials potentially cost the party the chance of victory by sabotaging the 2017 election campaign.

But election results from last year suggest that once those loyal to Mr Corbyn had seized full control of the party, many MPs fared worse.

Mr Trickett held onto his seat with a slender 1,180 majority while Ms Creagh, who was later fiercely critical of Mr Corbyn, lost her seat in Wakefield.

The leaked internal report, which is the subject of the investigation, has been seized upon by those who say it shows how party officials openly sought to work against Mr Corbyn

They also claim it shows  the former leader was himself prevented from effectively tacking antisemitism by those in the party who opposed him.

In their joint submission to the Forde inquiry, Mr Corbyn, Mr Trickett, John McDonnell and senior aides including Seumas Milne, Andrew Fisher, Andrew Murray and Steve Howell said: “We believe that there is clear evidence of factional activity by senior paid employees of the party against the elected leadership of the time.”

They alleged that in 2017 hostile officials set up a “shadow operation” in a Westminster office as part of efforts to plot their own election course, which included starving potential target seats of money and focusing resources on MPs not allied to Mr Corbyn.

If claims in the report of significant sums of money being spent on such actions without authority are correct then, the submission said, the inquiry must consider “whether it may have constituted fraudulent activity”.

But the report - which has led to scores of legal complaints from party members, many of who are Jewish, after it was circulated online without redacting names - has been criticised by opponents as being highly selective and sectarian.

One told the JC that it  was compiled to promote  “a mythical ‘stab in the back’ conspiracy theory” by those who wished  “to absolve themselves” of responsibility for Mr Corbyn’s electoral defeats.

Mr Corbyn’s supporters have also seized upon claims that a secretive project known as the 'Ergon House project' was set up ahead of the 2017 election by those who opposed Mr Corbyn.

But this claim has been attacked as “pure fantasy” by a Labour source who said the project arose because secret polling showed the party was miles behind the Tories going into the election.

The project was kept under wraps as a result, it is claimed, so as not to alert supporters and the electorate of the party’s concerns over its appalling polling.

Mr Trickett has been a staunch defender of Mr Corbyn after he became leader and was made Labour’s election co-ordinator until early 2017. Leaked minutes from a 2018 meeting of Labour’s ruling NEC showed Mr Trickett was amongst those to argue against disciplinary action for party members accused of racism and other forms of antisemitism.

But the MP, who is Jewish himself, was amongst those in the run up to the 2019 election to accept the party did have an antisemitism problem.

However when new leader Sir Keir Starmer ousted Rebecca Long Bailey from his shadow front bench team over her failure to condemn  an antisemitic conspiracy theory, Mr Trickett tweeted: “What has Sir Keir got against Northern socialists from working-class backgrounds?”

On Monday, David Miliband accused  Mr Corbyn and his supporters of trying to "wreck" Sir Keir ‘s leadership with his claim that the 2017 election campaign was sabotaged from within the party.

The former foreign secretary told Times Radio: ”When people got to look at Labour in 2017, we couldn't beat the worst Tory campaign in history… and then when people got the full measure of Jeremy Corbyn in 2019, he led us to the worst election defeat since the 1930s.

“So it's a wrecking tactic, and I hope people understand it for what it is.”

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