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: 

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

  1. stevep

    Back in 1979, only the unions and Labour activists knew how hard-right Thatcher and her cronies were, the electorate succumbed to the soft sell.
    She had lost the plot by `82 and was about to be knifed in the back when the Falklands changed everything.
    I often wonder whether Labour`s big lead in the polls pre-Falklands would have translated into election victory in 1983. Despite the lib/sdp alliance, it might well have.
    By `85 after the miners strike and the disgraceful scenes at the beanfield, only one word came to mind – coup. A planned right wing one, dating back to the `70s.
    Still, it`s 30 years on now and I`m pretty optimistic about change. I think there`s no great enthusiasm for hard-right politics in the UK, it`s just there has been little opposition to them. Maybe that`s about to change. we`ll see.

    The next few years will be interesting.

  2. mervynhyde

    I am not sure, but I think you mean SDP, not SNP.
    I think we all understand the threat of the right wing media, and those that have betrayed us in the past such as the SDP, but we locally fought them off, they left our party and called us the rump of the Labour Party, we outnumbered them by at least 3-1 some rump.
    We saw them off by campaigning with all our might leafleting and knocking on doors, they appealed to people who did not understand the political nuances of the day and thought they were the nice people and we were the kind of people that wanted to raid their bank accounts to squander as we please. We campaigned through that and actually won to the point that we drummed them out of town.
    Hence they were forced to join the liberals they had fallen so far.
    These same forces are at work in the party today, and you don’t need to put names to those that we all recognise are not Labour.
    We beat them off in the past by sheer will power, hard work and winning people over on the doorstep, today we have the technology to combat the power of the media, we have the evidence on our side and Greece is a window on the future we all face should we fall on our knees and allow it.

  3. Ringstone

    You don’t need to be an activist, you just need a sense of the ridiculous. A coffee money vote and a throwback comedy candidate that even his backers don’t support; the combination is toxic and therefore too good to miss. I’ve certainly invested my £3 to add to the hilarity. If Labour can’t even organise its own leadership election without falling over its feet; indeed even seem to regard itself as a serious organisation any more, why should I?.

  4. ReynardFx

    the problem Phil is that the right-wing press is repeatedly allowed to get away with it

  5. petra kaliq

    The oddity of the coming Labour Party election is that unlike all other elections, it can actually be decided by the electorate, by ordinary voting people.
    Parliamentary candidates are elected by obscure committees, local officials and councilors are likewise chosen by committee, not by the rank and file members, meaning that when electors go to the ballot box and put a cross on the paper, they are given a choice of candidates chosen by committee, groups that are notoriously conservative and prone to choose from a pool that represents a status quo and the preservation of the current order, avoiding conflict and radical change that many expect from politics.
    This is not a complaint of the Labour Party, it is a fact of life for most political parties in modern democracies, where business and money have come to have more say than the membership and the electorate

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