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

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

  1. Cole

    You don’t seriously imagine the Tories have that number of activists, do you?

  2. Peter Powell

    On a more humorous note, today’s top UK twitter trend – #I’mHardLeft – showed many thousands of Corbyn’s supporters parodying the very label. Examples include #I’mHardleft because I’d expect an NHS ambulance to take me to an NHS hospital, #I’mHardleft because I think foodbanks have no place in the UK, #I’mHardleft because I want politicians that work to end poverty not ‘redefine’ it (& even ‘If @JohnRentoul is anywhere near the centre or centre left, then #ImHardLeft!) Shows that the ‘Hard-Left’ is a pretty broad church!

  3. stevep

    I do understand what you are saying. I`ve given it a lot of thought over the years.
    The seventies were the seventies. A peculiar decade dominated by energy price hikes and dodgy fashions!
    The unions did have a say back then, because members understood the need for collectivity during a period of upheaval, this gave unions a little parity with more powerful organisations like multinational companies. The members were undermined by the media, predominantly The Sun, during this period. This led to the fracturing of solidarity a decade later.
    Reality is what you make it. you can choose to give up and lie down meekly and let events wash over you or you can try to influence events. I choose to at least try.
    History has shown us that extraordinary things can happen almost overnight, if the conditions are right.

    I believe that if Labour takes a more left-wing direction and stands up for British people, then they will respond in kind. Events in Europe has shown us that there is no great yearning for a hard-line Capitalist superstate. Let us lead, others will follow.


    It was indeed the seventies and Labour were being attacked right left and centre including the SNP. The outcome was inevitable and Thatcher had her way. Those of us who were activists knew exactly what the Tories would do. When I hear that song with the words ‘Linwood no more’ I just think of the scum SNP that helped her to power.

  5. jackanded

    As a Green Party member I am aware of many Greens signing up to Labour to support Corbyn. Whether this is enough is debatable and doubtful. Personally I believe Corbyn as leader would be a disaster for Labour, for many reasons, not least because it would consign Labour to opposition for a long time. But this is not a view held by the Greens I speak to – but then the GP has inflamed ideas of its own popularity and many of its younger members have a view that their twitter followers and facebook followers represent the entire nation. A view which is soon dispelled by simply knocking on doors and talking to ordinary people

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