- Shadow chancellor warns Labour MPs are conspiring against Corbyn.
- Claims “fake news” about the Labour leader is being passed to Murdoch-owned papers.
- McDonnell believes a “behind the scenes” coup is underway.
- Blames media contacts inherited from Peter Mandelson.
LONDON — Labour MPs are conspiring with Murdoch-owned newspapers in a new “soft coup” against Jeremy Corbyn, his Shadow Chancellor has claimed.
Writing in the socialist magazine Labour Briefing, John McDonnell suggests that there is a new “planned, co-ordinated and fully resourced,” campaign being led by Labour MPs and “the Murdoch media empire.”
“We have to alert party members and supporters that the soft coup is underway,” McDonnell writes.
“It’s planned, co-ordinated and fully resourced. It is being perpetrated by an alliance between elements in the Labour Party and the Murdoch media empire, both intent on destroying Jeremy Corbyn and all that he stands for.”
McDonnell suggests that unlike last year’s failed attempt to oust Corbyn, this new attempt is happening “behind the scenes.”
“The coup is not being waged up front in public but strictly behind the scenes,” he claims.
“Having learned the lesson of the last coup attempt — that a direct attack on Jeremy and his policies will provoke a backlash from many party members — the coup perpetrators are this time round pursuing a covert strategy.”
“The aim of these covert coup plotters is to undermine the support Jeremy has secured.
“The aim of these covert coup plotters is to undermine the support Jeremy has secured.”
“Undermining support for Jeremy from Labour voters is important to the plotters because their objective is to ensure Jeremy trails in the polls and can’t win elections.
“In this way, they can destroy morale among party members and their confidence in him.”
McDonnell accuses Corbyn’s enemies within the party of leaking “fake news” to Murdoch-owned newspapers through media contacts “inherited from Mandelson’s days”.
He points to recent reports that Corbyn’s office had conducted polling on whether or not the Labour leader should stand down and who should replace him.
“This polling took place back in November and its results were only accessible to a small number of party officials, Jon Trickett and the polling agency. To this day I have still not seen the results. The polling was leaked by someone to James Lyons, a Times journalist who has regularly received leaks from within the Labour Party – usually used to attack Jeremy and his team.”
He describes the stories as “fake news”.
“The Murdoch media had already run earlier in the week fake news stories in The Times and Sun alleging that Jeremy was planning to stand down as leader of the Party.”
“No matter how many times it was explained that this story was completely untrue and absolute fiction, the The Times and Sun continued to run it – and the BBC and other broadcast media took it up and reported it extensively. The media then invented the story that the polling on the perception of Shadow Cabinet members in the north west was the Party testing the perceptions of potential successors to Jeremy.”
“This was a classic negative story framing and transmission exercise. It is just one example of what we confront on a weekly and at times almost daily basis. It is vitally important that our supporters understand and appreciate what we are facing.”
The article comes as Corbyn faces a wave of criticism from Labour MPs and supporters following the party’s defeat in the Copeland by-election.
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