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. stevep

    Never mind “hard left plot to infiltrate the Labour race”. There`s been a hard Right plot to infiltrate Britain since the 1970`s. It`s been successful.
    If the Left try to explain it, it`s leftie propaganda or conspiracy theorism.
    Anything the right says must be the gospel truth.
    Thank goodness for websites like Left Foot Forward.
    Time for redress.

  2. David Lindsay

    If Labour has rejected only 30 applications, then mine is one of them. I told several NEC members, my Labour MP, and various others, that I was going to vote for Burnham, and that was true at the time. He then wouldn’t vote for us cripples, so I changed to Corbyn; the personal is political. But even so. Someone needs to look into the other 29.


    If they elect Corbyn they will definitely win, everyone who has been voting for LibDems and Greens will hedge their bets with Labour under Corbyn, because he is a genuine left-wing leader, and if you get all the left-wing votes for one party they will definitely win.
    There is no ‘plot’, this is what democracy actually looks like, we’ve just never seen it before in the UK!

  4. Martin McGrath

    At the last general election “far left” groups (and in that I’m including that NHS party – which is a dubious one) stood just under 200 candidates and managed 75,000 votes (they averaged around 390 per candidate). Even if every single one of their voters joined Labour and voted for Corbyn, they’d still only make up one quarter of the electorate for the leadership.

  5. disqus_izKB2mVZ9T

    I’m not hard left, for a start I’m very skeptical about immigration and I don’t begrudge anyone being rich. I wouldn’t have voted for her but I’m an admirer of Thatcher too. Corbyn will be getting vote.

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