Is there any evidence – at all – to connect threats of abuse to Labour MPs with Jeremy Corbyn?

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party leader [Image: Matt Dunham/AP].

Smiling in the face of adversity: Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party leader [Image: Matt Dunham/AP].

What do you do when nearly four dozen female colleagues demand that you take action to stop something that doesn’t have anything to do with you or anybody who works for you?

That, it seems, was the question put before Jeremy Corbyn yesterday (July 22), when Paula Sheriff and 43 other female Labour MPs demanded that he address threats and demonstrations by groups they claim support him.

The letter does not seem to show any evidence that they have researched the perpetrators of these incidents, yet the ladies concerned were quite happy to sign off with, “Jeremy, this is being done in your name.” How do they know?

Are the perpetrators members of the Labour Party? They don’t know. They haven’t checked.

Are they known supporters of Mr Corbyn? No – because he has condemned this behaviour. Ms Sheriff and her colleagues should, therefore, conclude that these people are acting against Mr Corbyn.

But they haven’t.

Instead, they have condemned shadow chancellor John McDonnell and other shadow ministers for addressing rallies where bullying as been “actively encouraged or quietly condoned”. How do they know? Let’s see the evidence.

(If they think Wallasey is a good example, they’d better think again – the allegations of homophobic abuse against Angela Eagle were lies.)

If MPs have experienced threatening behaviour, then it is right that they should bring it to Mr Corbyn’s attention. It is also right that they should contact the police. If these threats were transmitted over the Internet, then This Writer certainly hopes investigators would have checked whether the perpetrators had a Labour affiliation or anything at all to do with Mr Corbyn.

An attempt to lecture Mr Corbyn on his duty to condemn threatening and intimidating behaviour falls flat because he has been doing this, pretty much non-stop, ever since the tragic death of Jo Cox.

Claims about a “culture of hatred and division” are to be taken with a pinch of salt. Where Mr Corbyn has spent weeks extolling the virtues of reconciliation between opposing factions in the Labour Party, his opponents – such as Angela Eagle, Owen Smith and their supporters – have spent that time making personal attacks against him and his.

The level of baiting has grown so great that guidance has been drawn up, advising Corbyn supporters to disengage from any such dialogue as experience has shown that the intention is to draw people into an argument and then publicise any comment that could cast Mr Corbyn’s side in a bad light.

160723 Advice to Corbyn supporters

I can certainly attest that these tactics are being used, because people have tried to use them on me. They make bald statements about the victim, evidenceless, and ensure that the victim will see what’s being said about them (this is very easy on Twitter). When the victim attempts to demonstrate that the attacker has no evidence, and explains their own side, that’s when the misrepresentations come in: “Oh, so you’re saying it’s not X but Y?” Of course, both options are prejudicial and neither represents the victim’s case.

I managed to deal with the attacks on me by pointing to the evidence supporting my view, until the attackers fell back on the old trolling technique of repeating a question I had already answered. At that point it was time to disengage and block the other people.

Of course, Mr Corbyn’s detractors never receive any bad publicity – unless you count the Labour Abuse account on Twitter ( @LabourAbuse ).

So, what can Mr Corbyn do when faced with a series of demands supported by unsubstantiated allegations? Here’s where Ms Sheriff’s case – and that of her colleagues – falls a little flat:

It turns out that the demands are empty as they are all for things that Mr Corbyn would do in any case.

He’s happy to hold meetings with the women in the PLP.

He has already issued unequivocal statements about abuse and threatening behaviour and is happy to issue more.

He has made a career out of challenging unacceptable behaviour.

The final demand is a sticking-point, though. It is hard to hold his supporters accountable if somebody attends an event at which they are speaking, wearing T-shirts carrying threatening slogans or carrying posters with threatening messages.

For example – and I think this is the event to which Ms Sheriff is referring: The rally for Mr Corbyn on June 27, at which a person was photographed wearing a T-shirt attacking “Blairite scum”.

This was a stunt carried out by a member of right-wing think tank Progress, along with a PR company that has been heavily involved with the campaign against Mr Corbyn.

The T-shirt smear against Jeremy Corbyn: On the left, Lewis Parker, "creative strategist and media guru"; on the right, Anna Phillips of Blairite pressure group Progress - at the rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn on Monday, June 27. The media were in uproar about that T-shirt - at the wrong man.

The T-shirt smear against Jeremy Corbyn: On the left, Lewis Parker, “creative strategist and media guru”; on the right, Anna Phillips of Blairite pressure group Progress – at the rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn on Monday, June 27. The media were in uproar about that T-shirt – at the wrong man.

Why should his supporters be held accountable for their actions?

Have the people in the photograph been questioned about it? Has the person responsible for this stunt come forward?

If not, then it seems Ms Sheriff will find it hard to take the moral high ground.

Jeremy Corbyn has been plunged into another row over bullying within the Labour party after more than 40 of his female MPs signed a letter calling for him to do more to combat “an extremely worrying trend of escalating abuse and hostility”.

The open letter addressed to Corbyn, tweeted by the Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff and signed by her and 43 colleagues, condemns the Labour leader for what they call an inadequate response to threats and demonstrations by groups who support him in his battle with a rebellious parliamentary party.

It expresses alarm that the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, and other shadow ministers have addressed rallies where demonstrations outside MPs’ offices or bullying at constituency Labour party meetings have been “actively encouraged or quietly condoned”.

The strongly worded letter says MPs have experienced rape threats, death threats and other incidents, amid a climate of worry following the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox in June. It adds that female and non-white MPs have been “disproportionately affected” by the abuse.

“We all have a duty to challenge and unequivocally condemn all threatening and intimidating behaviour,” the letter says, describing the “severe distress” caused to MPs and their staff.

It continues: “The culture of hatred and division that is being sown does not benefit anybody, not the party, not the leader and certainly not the British people. We hope that a significant shift takes place within the Labour party regarding the way we deal with future incidents.”

The MPs seek four commitments from Corbyn: to hold regular meetings with the women’s parliamentary Labour party group; to issue an “unequivocal statement” condemning actions such as demonstrations outside MPs’ surgeries; to “actively challenge” any intimidating behaviour; and to hold colleagues accountable if they attend events where threatening slogans are used, including on posters and T-shirts.

It ends by saying of the bullying: “Jeremy, this is being done in your name.”

Source: Female Labour MPs call on Jeremy Corbyn to act over ‘escalating abuse’ | Politics | The Guardian


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26 thoughts on “Is there any evidence – at all – to connect threats of abuse to Labour MPs with Jeremy Corbyn?

  1. Celia Villa-Landa

    I have set up a Facebook group : Women for Jeremy Corbyn. If women join it, they will show their support for him against the smears and lies in the mainstream media.

  2. mohandeer

    The Labour First and Right wing elements are using people to attend momentum meetings specifically to engage in tactics designed to inflame Corbyn supporters then reporting that they(those deliberately trying to stir up trouble) were harassed and bullied.
    It’s purely underhand tactics and dirty tricks but people should remember that we as Corbyn supporters are better than this and we hold these type of shenanigans in total contempt. Their tactics are working since they have Corbyn on the back foot trying to defend that which does not exist except among those who are making the allegations.
    This activity by the dirty tricksters is likely to continue until the vote takes place, by which time there will be no United Labour Party and the rift will be irreconcilable. While Corbyn may wish to turn the other cheek and forgive and forget, those people who have had to put up with this disgusting strategy by the righties will not be so willing.
    The sooner the righties get Labour’s 50 “richest” donors to support their joining up with Paddy Ashdown & Tim Farron’s LibDems to form a new party, which will require all the righties to apply for reselection by the members, the better.
    Many people who thought Corbyn was saying the right things are getting fed up with his “niceness” – whilst it was his honesty and integrity that brought him so much support, his determination to unite the two factions is now becoming an irritation to many, though the suggestions they have offered as JC’s responses leave much to be desired. It’s going to be a long fraught summer thanks to the continued lies and deceptions by the right wing of the Labour Party. Owen Smith purporting the notion that he is a socialist falls rather short of the reality.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Please don’t put all of it on there because you’d be taking visits away from the site – but you’re welcome to copy the first couple of paragraphs and quote them, with a link to the full article.

  3. David Woods

    Regarding the comment – “It continues: “The culture of hatred and division that is being sown does not benefit anybody, not the party, not the leader and certainly not the British people”.

    As it is the ‘Rebels’ that have caused most of this, does that not give Mr. Corbyn the perfect opportunity to rid his party of those bringing disrepute upon the Labour Party, and do as these ‘ladies’ requested at the same time – especially those who have already been caught outright lying, which might even be approaching slander as they keep pushing the same proven lie!

  4. jeffrey davies

    i wonder if my mps in all that 40 of his female MPs signed a letter calling for him to do more to combat “an extremely worrying trend of escalating abuse and hostility”. she a 4th dan i wouldnt think someone will bully her ops

  5. Joan Edington

    Although I wholeheartedly agree with your opinion here about lack of proof against Corbyn, and I don’t believe he has anything to do with threats or anything else, I can’t help comparing your attitude to him with your attitude to Nicola Sturgeon in the past.

    You held her personally responsible for some bullying of Labour supporters by a few people who may or may not have been in the SNP. You insisted that she should keep her supporters under control. I don’t see the difference really.

  6. Fibro confused

    If the threats and abuse are actually happening it’s very simple to prove it, telephone calls can be traced, mobile numbers too, twitter and facebook are both traceable as are emails. The T-shirt in the photo just ott, no not the message the amount of words used. So many of the PLP have cried foul and the incidents have been proven to be lies now if there is an incident it won’t be taken seriously because of those false allegations. Come forward with the proof not a staged ridiculous slogan on a t-shirt, report it to the police, let the legal system deal with these people, no one wants to see or hear abuse. It works both ways, lies and manipulation will also be dealt with by providing the evidence.

  7. Brian

    All of these comments in this open letter do, and should apply to the publishers, not Corbyn. You are right, the media is at their disposal, despite the evidence, the BBC (9.30pm News Ch1.) has just reported again, that the broken window was the office of Angela Eagle, How about an open letter to these with a few chosen words focusing on THEM running a hate campaign.

  8. marki

    not hard for malevolents to put on a labour hat and create a media whirlwind, especially if the disappear like spies afterwards

    1. Fibro confused

      Your a busy chap so a no answer to this quite understandable, don’t fancy taking a photo from say an Owen Smith gathering to show how someone with the knowledge can fake a photo this way? not with any inflammatory words not even mentioning Jeremy. Then blog it along with the Faked one.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        For clarity: Steve hasn’t taken any photos at any gatherings. The image he analysed was sent to the media shortly after the rally in Parliament Square on June 27.

      2. Fibro confused

        Sorry if my reply wasn’t clear, I was asking if Steve could alter a photo ‘already’ in the public domain, to show how easy (if you have the program and knowledge) it is to create a fake picture and create a story from nothing 🙂

  9. Brian

    Next we’ll see an offer off a reward for the T-shirt wearer to come forward and tell all.

  10. Tim

    There’s two ways of looking at this. Firstly that the thuggish behaviour of some of Corbyn’s supporters is indicative of the low calibre of significant numbers of those supporters which augers badly for the future of the Labour party. And secondly that unlike President Harry S. Truman, who kept a sign on his desk in the White House which read “The buck stops here”, to remind him that as leader he was responsible for everything happening during his presidency done by himself and/or done by others connected or working for him, Corbyn is allowing unsavoury things to go on around him, by his acolytes, limply saying in a soppy way that it shouldn’t be happening but not really doing anything concrete, e.g., expelling bullies and ruffians from the party, to set an example that such behaviour won’t be tolerated by the party or by him personally in any way, shape or form. .

    I think Corbyn is far too soppy to do a Harry S. Truman and take responsibility.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      He could certainly start by expelling Seems Malhotra, Thangam Debbonaire, Lilian Greenwood, Conor McGinn, Angela Eagle and anybody else known to have perverted the facts in order to undermine him.

      Can you imagine the furore if he die, though?

      Better to let the members sort these people out – when they get the chance.

      1. Tim

        I don’t see your point. I was talking about expulsion of people who have threatened or been abusive to others being expelled from the Labour party not people who have challenge Jeremy Corbyn or refused to passively go along with the status quo: none of the people you mention, 80% of which are female, have threatened anybody or sought to intimate or bully anybody have they, Mike? To expel people from the Labour party for diverging from the current desideratum and/or disagreeing with the current leader would be Stalinist and I Jezza was daft enough to do it, well, he would deserve all the brickbats and criticisms levelled at him. (I don’t believe thgat even Corbyn is quite that maladroit.) On the other hand to put down a marker and expel cowards threatening (mostly) women with atrocious things like rape and violence would be, in my opinion, the natural action of a real political leader as well as a gentleman.

        Jeremy reminds me of a mouse lost in a maze.

        Squeak up for goodness, man!

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        You said Mr Corbyn had been allowing unsavoury things to go on around him, so I merely identified those in the PLP who are responsible and agreed with you that they should go.
        Expelling people from the Labour Party for acting against its interests and lowering it in the eyes of the right-thinking people of the UK is the correct action. It’s not about them disagreeing with the leader – that is perfectly acceptable if done in a reasonable way. But plotting against him is not reasonable. Conspiring to overthrow him, against the will of the party at large, is not reasonable. It is a betrayal of the party as well as the leader and the party’s rules state that these people need to answer for their actions.
        But you refer to “cowards threatening (mostly) women with atrocious things like rape and violence”. This is also unacceptable – obviously. I suggest you send a list of their names and membership details to Mr McNicol and Labour’s NEC as soon as possible.

      3. Lee Hyde

        So you wouldn’t classify the mendacious and politically motivated sluring of Jeremy, Momentum, their supporters and entire CLPs by people in positions of power and influence (namely MPs) who should know better, and with scant to flimsy evidence bullying then? Let’s take Ms Malhoutra as an example; knowingly (and I’m long past giving these people the benefit of the doubt) exagerating a simple misunderstanding to harrass and quite possibly jeopardise the job if a lowly office manager, who in the course of doing her job walked into an office Ms Malhoutra ought well to have vacated weeks earlier. Nah, nit bullying ir abusive at all, all this politically motivated chicanery (the gas lighting, the snears, the guilt by association, the disingenuous calls and thus linkage of Corbyn and supporters with misogyny and antisemitism without a shred of evidence and, in the later case, a recent report to the contrary). Pffy, pull the other one.

    2. paulrutherford8

      Assuming, of course that the people responsible are actually bona fide supporters and members of the party?
      Some of the more aggressive Twitter accounts, when examined, by reading their timelines, are not what I would call ‘genuine’.

    3. Lee Hyde

      Isn’t the NEC, not the leader’s office responsible for discipline? For that matter, aren’t Iain McNicol (as Labour party chair), John Bercow (as Speaker of the House) and IPSA (as the name on their whopping pay cheques) these MPs ’employers’ (not Corbyn), many if not all being back benchers.

  11. Andrew

    Yes, well I heard another labour MP repeating all of these allegations today as if they were true. He claimed that at the event when the anti-semitism report was unveiled that a Corbyn supporter made an anti-semitic remark. Lies upon lies upon lies.

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