Thursday, 11 May 2017

Just who leaked Labour's manifesto? A theory

In general I’m not one who subscribes to conspiracy theories. All the reasoned evidence points to President Kennedy being shot by a lone gunman; Princess Diana being killed as a result of a tragic accident; and no, Elvis isn’t working in any fast food outlet in the north west.

But then this morning I seem to have changed the habit of a lifetime and want to posit one such theory to you.

It’s an accepted fact, one that certainly hasn’t been denied by the Labour Party itself, that yesterday copies of the party’s draft election manifesto were leaked to three media outlets; The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror and BBC.

It’s also an accepted fact that draft document contains an offer to the electorate further to the left of the political spectrum than anything since 1983: renationalisation of rail, buses, energy and mail; creation of a National Education Service with the promise of free higher education; massive public spending and tax rises to accompany them.

In some ways it’s refreshing to see an agenda so different from anything promised by any aspirant party of government for nearly thirty five years; in others, if received wisdom get anywhere near meeting reality, it guarantees Conservative government for at least the next decade.

But the question today has to be ‘just who leaked it?’

And this is where my conspiratorial mind comes into play, I just can’t believe it’s anyone other than someone from the office of Jeremy Corbyn himself, either with his explicit or implied blessing.

Anyone who has watched how Labour operates over the past two years would be able to tell you that the party machine hasn’t been, how shall I say this, the most effective PR unit you’ve ever seen. How many times have important news stories happened and the leader or his team have gone AWOL? Who can forget THAT walking holiday during the 2016 Conservative Part Conference?

And yet this morning? Labour spokesmen were primed and ready to go for the morning round of news programmes.

Don’t underestimate how impressive a feat that was. In at most twenty four hours, and in all likelihood far less, since becoming aware that newspapers had the document the party machine was ready to put up a defence far more coherent than senior figures, see Ms’s Abbott and Raynor, have managed time and time again during this burgeoning campaign.

If one were cynical you might suggest parts of Labour high command were prepared to respond? Surely not?

But take it one step further.

Who benefits from the leak in the longer term?

If, as many believe, Mr Corbyn and his inner circle have already given up on winning the coming general election there’s a strong argument to be made for their hard left agenda becoming public prior to adoption by the party itself.

Any watering down of that agenda will see blame being placed squarely on the shoulders of moderates.

Corbyn supporters will argue, as is their wont, that the eventual published manifesto was once again ‘Tory lite’.

There will once again be a ready-made set of enemies to be coalesced against in an almost certain leadership challenge; figures to blame; what might have beens to be asserted.

And of course moderates attending the upcoming Clause 5 meeting, the body which will ultimately confirm the Labour manifesto, know it too. They know the implications of seeking to add a dose of common sense to the manifesto, many will believe they have the first shot being fired in the next leadership battle.

Corbyn and his acolytes are not going to give up easily; they know how to win internal party elections and if that is their primary aim it’s ever so convenient for them that their draft manifesto has been made public.

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