If you don't follow Labour Party politics particularly closely you may be forgiven for not knowing who Luke Akehurst is. He is one of the anti-Corbyn members of the Labour NEC who has recently been voted out. He's one of Jeremy Corbyn's most persistent critics, and like many other senior Labour figures his Twitter feed has been an absolute abomination since the Anyone But Corbyn coup was launched.
I tried scrolling back to find the last time he actually said anything critical about the Tory government, but just like other loud-mouthed Anyone But Corbyn ranters like Tom Blenkinsop and Ian Austin there was no criticism of the Tory party to be found after scrolling down and down and down through reams of attacks other Labour Party members.
The only mentions of the Tories in hundreds of Tweets were four retweets bigging up a Tory local government by-election victory! Akehurst also found time off from smearing Corbyn, the Labour leadership and other party members as Stalinists, Trotskyists, entryists and totalitarians, retweeting fake Momentum accounts, posting appalling anti-Labour hatchet jobs in the S*n, and generally making the Labour Party look an absolute shambles to big up the Lib-Dems for a by-election victory too!
The sheer amount of Twitter bile Akehurst spews against members of his own party makes an extraordinary contrast with his total lack of criticism of the Tory government.
One of Akehurst's most illuminating Tweets is the one in which he openly admits that the main point of the leadership challenge was not to actually unseat Jeremy Corbyn, but actually something else (see article header image).
Akehurst doesn't actually explain what the covert agenda of the Anyone But Corbyn campaign is, but he makes it absolutely clear that he believes that Owen Smith's leadership challenge is just a secondary front for some other agenda.
In this article I'm going to consider the possibilities.
Alienating Labour Party members and voters
Labour coup-plotters like Luke Akehurst have managed to thoroughly piss off a huge swathe of the Labour Party membership and others who are sympathetic to the Labour Party cause.
- The coup-plotters obviously infuriated Corbyn supporters (some 60%+ of the party membership) by launching their inept leadership coup after he'd only been in the job nine months.
- Another group who must also have been dismayed by the coup attempt are the true party loyalists who value solidarity and think that it's best to get behind the elected leader whoever they are (a right-winger like Kinnock or Blair or a left-winger like Corbyn), then do your personal best for the Labour cause.
- You don't have to be a Corbyn supporter to see that the coup-plotters using Brexit as an excuse to launch their pre-planned putsch attempt massively let the Tories off the hook. Any Labour Party member who genuinely opposes the Tories has to admit that the timing of the coup couldn't have been worse. Had the Labour Party come together to criticise the Tories over Brexit, the public folk narrative would have been set that the Tories (rather than Corbyn and the Labour Party) were to blame for the Brexit mess. The anti-Corbyn leadership challenge then have been launched later on down the line at a much less damaging time for the party.
- New members were the next to be targeted. The Labour Party establishment introduced retroactive rule changes to bar 130,000+ Labour Party members from participating in the leadership election. Bizarrely this ban was imposed on several thousand anti-Corbyn new members who had been actively encouraged to join the party by the anti-Corbyn "Saving Labour" campaign. If encouraging people to spend money joining the party to vote in the leadership election and then banning them from voting isn't convincing proof of abject strategic incompetence from the Anyone But Corbyn plotters, it's impossible to imagine what would be.
- You don't have to be a new member to find the retroactive disenfranchisement of Labour Party members offensive. Anyone who gives a damn about democracy, or even basic fairness knows that it's outrageous to encourage people to join a party with the promise of a vote in leadership elections, then sneakily scrap their right to vote because you don't like the way you suspect they're going to vote.
It just goes to show how much contempt for the membership that people like Akehurst have when they think that they can get their own way by thoroughly pissing off such vast numbers of people.
Paralysing the Labour Party
Coup-plotter MPs have made threats in the mainstream press that they're planning to paralyse the Labour Party with one leadership challenge after another until Corbyn is gone.
Tom Watson is reportedly going to submit plans to the NEC to rig future leadership elections in favour of the coup-plotter MPs by giving just 230 Labour MPs the same share of the vote as some 600,000 Labour Party members!
Is the covert agenda Akehurst alludes to nothing more than a plan by the Anyone But Corbyn camp to permanently paralyse the Labour Party and prevent them from properly holding the Tory government to account by launching one leadership challenge after another? The Luke Akehurst Retweet about how 56% of Anyone But Corbyn supporters want another leadership challenge suggests that it might be.
Helping the Tories
Whether they like it or not it's undeniable that Labour coup-plotters like Luke Akehurst have given a massive helping hand to the Tories by timing their inept coup attempt to coincide with the Tory Brexit mess. It seems impossible that people have deluded themselves into thinking that it's somehow for the good of the party that Akehurst and his ilk have relentlessly attacked other members of their own party for several months instead of holding the Tories to account over Brexit, and especially their complete lack of a contingency plan just in case the public went along with what numerous senior Tories demanded people vote for. The lack of contingency planning for Brexit would have been bad enough in its own right, but the fact that high profile members of both Cameron's and May's cabinets were the ones demanding Brexit, it's absolutely unforgivable.
Additionally this extraordinary Labour in-fighting has allowed a load of other stuff besides the Tory Brexit mess to fly under the radar. The Tories scrapping of university maintenance grants for kids from poor backgrounds; Jeremy Hunt burying the evidence that his 7 day NHS project would risk patient safety and his ongoing ideological war with the junior doctors; the writing of a blank cheque for the renewal of Britain's stockpile of WMDs and Theresa May's vow that she would execute 100,000 innocent people; the Tory plan to tear up your human rights and replace them with a set of Tory allowances; Philip Hammond sitting on his hands all summer instead of detailing anything resembling an economic plan; the disintegration of of Cameron and Osborne's plan to bribe China into building our energy infrastructure for us; and the scrapping of NHS bursaries.
By launching their coup-plot and diverting a huge proportion of their press coverage onto Labour infighting just when the Tories were at their weakest point since they came to power in 2010, the Labour coup-plotters have undeniably helped the Tories.
During his leadership challenge Owen Smith has repeatedly talked up the threat of a split in the Labour Party in order to intimidate people into voting Anyone But Corbyn. The press have already been reporting efforts to form a break-away party, including plans to attract pro-EU Tory MPs to join them.
The prospects do not look good for this potential SDP 2.0 breakaway party. The Trade Unions wouldn't go with them and neither would the Labour Party membership (just 18% said they would quit Labour and join SDP 2.0 if Corbyn wins this leadership election). This means that the breakaway party would be heavily reliant on donations from billionaires (like Michael Foster and David Sainsbury for example). This would mean that like the Tories, UKIP and the Lib-Dems, they would end up moulding their policies to suit the interests of their billionaire backers, rather than to the interests of the electorate.
Does the UK really need yet another political party to serve the interests of the super-rich? I don't think so, but it's clear that there are many within the Labour Party who do, and are completely unwilling to consider the historical precedent of the SDP debacle as a warning of what happens to Labour splitters (Shirley Williams ended up in the unelected House of Lords as a Lib-Dem peer voting in favour of Tory plans to trash the NHS).
Damaging the Labour Party
If the covert agenda alluded to by Luke Akehurst is the formation of a breakaway SDP 2.0 party, the extraordinarily damaging behaviour of the coup-plotters actually makes a lot more sense. Instead of just walking away to form a new party, it makes a cynical kind of sense for them to spend several months deliberately inflicting as much damage on the reputation of the Labour Party as possible before leaving.
Before the EU referendum Jeremy Corbyn was rated as one of the most trustworthy politicians in the UK and Labour were gradually closing the polling gap on the Tories. After the coup and all of the incessant attacks on Corbyn and the Labour Party leadership from his own MPs, the approval ratings for the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn have slumped appallingly.
Spending several months deliberately vandalising the Labour Party reputation from within in order to improve the prospects of your planned breakaway party would clearly be a dirty and deeply cynical move, but it's undeniable one that makes perfect sense of the seemingly insane behaviour of the Labour coup-plotters.
We'll just have to see if Akehurst and the other Anyone But Corbyn coup-plotters do end up establishing an SDP 2.0 to know if malicious internal vandalism was their strategy all along.
Intimidating Labour Party members
One of the most alarming things about Akehurst's Twitter feed is the way that he has repeatedly tried to excuse the outrageously excessive nature of the Labour Party purge by pointing out that some unsavoury people have been hoofed out of the party too.
Of course it's right that people who post stuff like anti-Semitic abuse are barred from the party, but pointing out that they system has caught some real offenders is clearly no excuse for the fact that other people have been purged for "crimes" such as liking the Foo Fighters too much, voting for the Green Party several years before they joined the Labour Party and most ludicrously posting one single Tweet suggesting that the Green Party should be treated fairly in the televised election debates in an otherwise entirely Labour biased Twitter feed.
The punishment of guilty people is good, but if the process sweeps up one innocent person and punishes them too, then the system is morally unjustifiable. It doesn't matter how many sinners you boast about having caught if the original complaint was that your system is punishing innocent people.
The fact that the anti-Corbyn elements of the Labour Party have completely ignored the findings of the Chakrabarti report and set about trawling through the social media feeds of thousands of members in order to search for "thought crime" is clearly an effort to intimidate them into not daring to voice their opinions in case they get purged for it.
Another example of the Labour Party trying to silence members from expressing their views is the complete lockdown on local party democracy that was enforced to prevent local Labour CLPs from holding votes of no confidence in their coup-plotter MPs.
One last possibility is that Akehurst is just mouthing off impotently after the Anyone But Corbyn coup has stumbled ineptly from one failure to another. Their failure to depose Corbyn should be an intense source of embarrassment for them given how they've constantly harped on about how incompetent and unelectable he is. If he's even a fraction as bad as they've been making out, how utterly useless must they be to have failed to get rid of him?
Perhaps Akehurst is simply trying to revise the failure of the Anyone But Corbyn coup as a success by pretending that they always expected Corbyn to easily beat off their attempts to bully him out of office and their leadership challenge, and that orchestrating a massive re-affirmation of Jeremy Corbyn's mandate to lead the Labour Party is all part of their master plan to get rid of him!
Whatever the true objective of this covert agenda Luke Akehurst was referring to, all of the things detailed above are the actual outcomes.
Akehurst and his fellow coup-plotters have succeeded in doing a huge amount of damage to the reputation of the Labour Party, alienating huge numbers of Labour members and voters, helping the Tory party by paralysing the official opposition in the wake of the biggest Tory cock up in decades, making a breakaway SDP 2.0 much more likely, intimidating and silencing Labour Party members, and making absolute fools of themselves by incompetently failing to get rid of a guy they have constantly derided as the incompetent one!
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