Hard-left plot to elect Corbyn Labour leader? The numbers don’t add up

Sunday Times ludicrously inflates the popularity of communism in modern Britain


The Sunday Times yesterday ran a front page story claiming there was a ‘hard Left plot to infiltrate the Labour race’.

The story purports to expose a sinister cabal of left-wingers registering to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour party leader, noting that a projected 140,000 people will have signed up by the election deadline on August 12.

This claim is repeated by all the Tory newspapers today, along with hysteria about Corbyn’s admiration for Karl Marx. (The Daily Mail likens Corbyn’s call for public ownership of the railways to the policies of Lenin.)

Sadly for them, the numbers don’t add up. 

The Sunday Times claimed the ‘entryist’ plot includes members of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), including the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), and – most nefarious of all – Green party activists.

Taking these in turn, the CPGB has around 40 members, according to a source with far-left connections.

In the last general election it contested, the party received 6,000 votes nationally. That was in 1987.

The TUSC is a federation of groups, with candidates standing in 135 parliamentary seats and 619 local election posts in the 2015 general election. They currently have four local councillors elected and no MPs.

Sunday Times 26 7 15

The SWP, part of the federation as the Times notes, publicly claims to have 6,000 members, (though I’m told few of these are active members beyond paying their subscription fee.)

The only source in the story for Greens joining is a quote from an unnamed shadow cabinet minister, who lists them as the sort of people joining. (Actual Green party activists would not likely join a rival party and vote for a candidate who will hoover up their supporters.)

How do we get from here to 140,000?

The story notes trade unions have signed up 25,338 members, with a further 30,000 applications being processed. The Sunday Times doesn’t know if these people are ‘hard-left’ or not – certainly no evidence is presented in the story. Basic arithmetic shows they are not militant activists for the groups the paper names.

But even if every one of the people signed up by unions is an extreme Leftist planning to vote Corbyn, the number still falls very short of the 140,000 the paper cites.

To claim a significant number of the projected 140,000 people registering to vote for a new Labour leader are members of ‘hard-left’ parties is not supported by the evidence.

Not least because you could fit the members of Britain’s hard-left parties on a single train platform.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more: 

No, Lord Falconer didn’t say ‘women aren’t tough enough’: Times spin infects Labour leadership race

The Sun attacks Andy Burnham for claiming £39 on petrol over 4 years

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25 Responses to “Hard-left plot to elect Corbyn Labour leader? The numbers don’t add up”

  1. Phil Kelly

    The late Michael Foot was awarded large damages (which he donated to Tribune) after the Sunday Times mendaciously claimed that he worked for the USSR, but this is another Tory paper that never lets the facts get in the way of a good story

  2. GTE

    So the 140,000 are really Tories out to take the piss out of Labour

  3. David Henry

    I think you’ll find many greens and former lib dems and even snp leaving and signing up to support Labour (if only to rejoin if Corbyn isn’t elected). You only need to look at the numerous facebook and twitter campaign pages urging people to sign up.

  4. Dave Stewart

    I am one of those who has recently joined labour to vote in the leadership contest because for the first time in my adult life there is a prospect of a labour leader and hopefully labour party who I would be prepared to vote for. Namely someone that is an actual social democrat as opposed to the red Tories we have had since the 90s. I expect if Corbyn does not win I will leave the party as the other candidates will never provide a platform which I would be prepared to vote for.

    I expect that a large majority of these new members will be of a similar mind to me. It is also worth noting that Corbyn is hardly a hard left candidate, it’s just that the others are well past what was once considered the centre ground and this sort of absurd reporting is specifically designed to move what people consider to be the centre further and further right. I mean really Leninist policies what nonsense, but sadly the constant bombardment of alarmist misinformation has been working.

  5. Cives Mundi

    Left? These idiots don’t know the meaning of left (if it has any). This is ridiculous posturing and feigned hysteria of the media (and I don’t say right-wing media because it’s a given by 90%). Hard left means communism. There is no such thing as a communist movement in these islands. I don’t believe there has really been a sustainable communist state with the exception of Cuba, but that was a dictatorship so how is it communism? Hard left means “We know what is best for you and we will restrict your freedoms to make it happen, for you own good, but then we hope to give the power back to you because you’re sheep and idiots, but by the same token we will get used to patronising your existence and you will be stuck with us”. Britain doesn’t go for that old tosh, barely distinguishable from fascism or the USSR or last century China. Totalitarian is totalitarian and we as a nation reject it and always will. This isn’t politics it’s emotional fear-mongering, ‘reds under the beds’ kind of stuff. Unfortunately the current masses suck it up like twerking and celebrities eating maggots or whatever it is they do.

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