Labour Party candidates seeking council seats in the local government election are advised to contact their constituency party and local campaign forum chairs, and CLP secretaries – and warn their MPs – after it was revealed The Sunday Times may be planning a new slew of accusations in an article to be published on Easter Sunday.
It seems reporters for that “newspaper” may attempt to undermine the party’s high standing in the opinion polls with a series of claims against candidates.
One such person took to Facebook to say they had been contacted – by telephone – by a reporter for the newspaper.
He said he knew this person was standing for Labour in the local elections and mentioned two posts the candidate had made about Israel. He said he wanted to give the candidate the right of reply.
(Note that the posts were about Israel. It seems The Sunday Times may be trying to create a false equivalence between that – secular – nation and Judaism in order to fabricate allegations of anti-Semitism. We’ll find out on Sunday.)
The candidate wisely stated that they were not willing to discuss the matter by telephone but would give it consideration if the allegations were sent via email.
(This is wise. I responded to a Sunday Times reporter by email, before a story appeared falsely accusing me – and of course I won a rather lengthy correction from that “newspaper” thereafter.)
It seems likely that, if the Sunday Times is contacting many people in this manner, a proportion will refuse to engage, so it will be possible to publish allegations and then say, “[X] has been contacted for comment,” or, “[X] did not wish to comment when we contacted [them].”
Anyone being contacted in this manner should contact their Constituency Labour Party chair and Local Campaign Forum chair immediately, with details of the contact and any information about the allegations.
It is also advisable that, if the Parliamentary constituency in which the candidate is standing has a Labour MP, that person should be contacted and made to understand that – unless the allegation is accurate – failure to show solidarity with their fellow party members will attract the displeasure of constituency party members. If necessary, the party whips should become involved.
The Sunday Times allegations over the last few weeks have only gained any credibility because Labour MPs have treated them in that way. This is not acceptable.
Here in the UK, everybody is considered innocent of any allegation until proof of guilt has been established. That has not happened with the Sunday Times allegations of the last two weekends, yet some Labour MPs have acted as if it has. This must stop.
Trial by media is trial by witch-hunt. Enough is enough.
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