John Woodcock was 'singled out' after the Labour leader was humiliated
He commented on Jeremy Corbyn's campaign and their tactics
Mr Woodcock said it was shocking to publish a hit list of 'abusive MPs'
By JOHN WOODCOCK, LABOUR MP FOR BARROW AND FURNESS
PUBLISHED: 01:44, 18 September 2016 | UPDATED: 08:47, 18 September 2016
(Sent to NV by Trevor Hoyle)JUST when you think the state of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's regime cannot get any bleaker, his team does something so nasty it surprises you all over again.
The decision by the Corbyn campaign to publish a hit list of so-called 'abusive' MPs is shocking even by the standards of a team which has knowingly enabled a culture in which intolerance and abuse of fellow members has become the depressing norm.
Their attempts to intimidate critics and suppress dissent owe more to Russia than Britain, so much so that I am half expecting Mr Corbyn's communications chief Seumas Milne to hove into view as I type this in the lobby of a Moscow hotel. (I am here as part of an official visit to observe today's parliamentary elections, rather than consigning myself to some early Soviet-style re-education for my thought crimes against Corbynism.)
It was deeply malicious to release the names of 13 supposed miscreants (including mine) to the 'MSM' – as Corbyn fans disparagingly badge the 'mainstream media'.
I was singled out for expressing dismay in colourful language after the Labour leader was humiliated yet again at Prime Minister's Questions.
Ironically, that particular disaster was caused by the now infamous 'core group-negative' list that grouped MPs according to the level of loyalty they showed to the leader. It was also, surprise surprise, apparently revealed by mistake.
My response was inappropriately sweary, being intended as a private message to a colleague rather than a public tweet, but it voiced despair at Labour's sorry plight – not abuse of Mr Corbyn.
Ignore the guff about the press release being a mistake, this was calculated to divide our party further by fingering individuals as the 'enemy within'.
Why bother singling people out rather than let the Parliamentary Labour Party as a whole carry the can for this summer's leadership election?
Well, the sheer number of resignations from the Labour front bench has presented Team Corbyn with a problem – 172 Labour MPs is too large and unwieldy a bloc to ostracise.
Better to create a small band of scapegoats for Corbyn fans to vilify in earnest.
The message to MPs is clear: want to avoid being thrown to the angry mob like these guys? Then get your head down and come back into the fold.
It is an age-old tactic practised by authoritarian regimes the world over: in fractious times, attempt to unite people in common hatred of an 'enemy within'.
For French revolutionaries and, later, the Marxists, the bourgeoisie were to blame for society's ills; in modern Russia, President Putin's state-led media repeatedly drills home the message that 'the oligarchs' and agents of foreign powers are trying to ruin the country.
Similarly, in Corbyn's Labour Party, those pesky 'Blairites' are behind every reverse. It is not required to have any affinity to Tony Blair to be a Blairite: in fact increasingly, often quite the opposite is true. You just need to be named as such by any number of pumped up anonymous internet trolls sporting Corbyn ribbons on social media.
Up until now, Mr Corbyn has left it to the trolls, his Momentum groups, and occasionally his Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, to dole out the abuse while he smiles serenely and gives out the odd platitude about things not being in his name.
Having one of his official mouthpieces fanning the flames of hatred towards named individuals – as was the case with the list of 'abusive' MPs – takes things to another level entirely. The swivel-eyed nature of the list of 13 and the fatuous and, in many cases, inaccurate examples it cites has prompted a number of my colleagues to consider suing Mr Corbyn for defamation.
But aside from the folly of libelling colleagues you are supposed to be leading, it is irresponsible to put out what will inevitably be interpreted as a roll call of 'traitors' by idiots who need only the slightest encouragement to turn up the hate towards people, most of whom have been loyal, decent Labour members far longer than they have.
It is worth reminding ourselves of some of the things that have happened since everyone pledged themselves to a kinder, gentler politics after the brutal killing of our friend and dearly missed colleague, Jo Cox.
Two MPs have had bricks thrown through their office windows, others have had death threats and scores have been subjected to a barrage of vile online abuse.
If harm comes to any of those on the list as a result of it being published, Mr Corbyn will rightly be held responsible for what is done in his name.
The excuse that this was an unauthorised act by a 'junior member of the campaign team' will not wash. If they insist on insulting the intelligence of members with this garbage, then we need to know exactly who was aware of and condoned the existence of the list, even if they did not personally sign it off.
A friend who is a Labour member contacted me earlier in the week, before the list was published, saying he had been telephone canvassed by a member of Corbyn's campaign team who claimed that John McDonnell was keeping a list of the MPs who they wanted to finger as responsible for the challenge. I ask Mr McDonnell here and now: is this true?
The leaking of the list of 'abusive' MPs highlights another depressing aspect of the failure of Corbyn's leadership, namely the huge gulf between the lofty culture he preaches and the base tactics his regime deploys.
Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell have set themselves up as the high priests of an 'honest, straight-talking politics', yet as soon as they are challenged their operation squirms, spins and distorts like the very worst of anything that came before.
They talk about transforming campaigning while relying on speaking to the converted at placard-heavy rallies which the hard-Left has been organising for decades while losing election after election to Right-wing Tory governments.
Mr Corbyn plays Jeremy the endearing old man, urging people to be kinder and gentler while his operation fans the flames of division and hate to sap the morale of many decent Labour members in the hope they will lie low or leave the party.
Mr Corbyn and his team may already be starting their victory lap before the result of the leadership contest is announced on Saturday, and planning their revenge on those they want to isolate and denigrate, but this election is not over yet.
There is still time to save our party and turn the page on this deeply divisive period if the members and affiliates who have not yet voted choose the alternative that Mr Corbyn's hard-working and decent opponent Owen Smith has slogged tirelessly over the summer to promote.
The Labour Party and the country deserve better than a man who tells his followers he is full of love while creating a party in which many do not feel welcome or even safe.
Clem Attlee would never have stood for this. We don't have to stand for it either.