Labour MPs’ fury over Corbyn campaign's ‘ridiculous' hit list

Written by David Singleton on 15 September 2016 in Diary

13 anti-Corbyn MPs featured on the incendiary briefing note sent out in error by 'a junior press officer'

Relations between Jeremy Corbyn and some of his MPs have plunged to yet another new low.

Thirteen MPs were named on a briefing prepared by Corbyn’s team and denouncing them for their "abuse" of the leader and his supporters.

Appearing on the list were: Tom Watson, John Woodcock, Jess Phillips, Tristram Hunt, Ian Austin, Neil Coyle, Ben Bradshaw, Frank Field, Anna Turley, Jamie Reed, Karl Turner, Stephen Kinnock and Tom Blenkinsop.

The briefing cited Watson calling Momentum as "a rabble", Woodcock describing a Corbyn PMQs performance as a "fucking disaster" and Phillips telling Diane Abbott to "fuck off" at a meeting of Labour MPs.

Sources close to Corbyn have claimed the list was leaked by a junior press officer on the leadership campaign and was not meant for official use. Senior allies of the leader are known to be furious with the incompetence shown by the leadership campaign media operation. As are most of the 13 accused MPs.

One MP on the list told PoliticsHome: "With one breath Jeremy calls for unity and with the next they publish this hit-list. I think members will be really dismayed. None of the MPs they're targeting has ever talked about splitting the party. The only person who has done that is John McDonnell."

Woodcock and Bradshaw have both written to chief whip Rosie Winterton and Labour general secretary Iain McNicol to complain.

Bermondsey MP Neil Coyle has gone further, announcing he is looking to take legal action against Corbyn.

He told the BBC: “I’ve let the chief whip, the party general secretary and the party chair know I’m upset. I let the leader know yesterday I was upset and wanted to know what I was being accused of.

“If I receive a written apology from the leader and if this statement, this ridiculous, petty, student politics list is retracted, that would help. But I will still be talking to a lawyer…. This is defamation. I’ve been accused of abuse. That is completely unacceptable and it’s so unprofessional.”

Only Watson seems to be slightly relaxed about the whole affair. In public at least.

A spokesman for Labour's deputy leader said: "Tom Watson has received an apology from James Mills on behalf of the junior press officer in Jeremy Corbyn's campaign team who released this list by mistake."

And speaking to Mills on Twitter, Watson was at his most magnanimous.






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