Rebecca Long Bailey hires man who wore a badge joking about Trotsky’s assassination
By Brendan Carlin and James Heale and Martin Beckford for The Mail on Sunday
Published: 22:11 GMT, 21 December 2019 | Updated: 02:21 GMT, 22 December 2019
Labour will never again win power if Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Stalinist-backed’ favourite Rebecca Long Bailey becomes the next leader, party moderates warned last night.
They said Labour would condemn itself to ‘political oblivion’ if members chose Ms Long Bailey, 40, to succeed Mr Corbyn. The dire predictions came after the Shadow Business Secretary appeared to confirm her status as the darling of hard-Left activists by picking ‘self-proclaimed’ Stalinist Alex Halligan to help run her campaign.
The Momentum organiser is credited with a key role in getting Mr Corbyn elected as party leader in 2015. Two years ago Mr Halligan was pictured wearing a badge with the slogan ‘Good Night Trotskyite’ and a silhouette of a man attacking another with an ice pick – a reference to the assassination in 1940 of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky on the orders of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
Party moderates warned last night Labour will never again win power if Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Stalinist-backed’ favourite Rebecca Long Bailey (pictured) becomes the next leader
Some Labour insiders claimed that choosing Mr Halligan was so controversial that it has led to a decision by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, one of Ms Long Bailey’s most powerful champions, not to get involved in her leadership bid.
Last night, Bermondsey MP Neil Coyle told The Mail on Sunday: ‘If voters think Labour have replaced Corbyn with a clone or simply want to offer the same overwhelmingly rejected package, the very real risk is that Labour will never be in Government again.’
The badge with ‘Good Night Trotskyite’ and a silhouette of a man attacking another with an ice pick – a reference to the assassination in 1940 of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky on the orders of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin
Another moderate Labour MP said privately: ‘For Long Bailey to hire a Stalinist would confirm all our worst fears and show she – and the people around her – haven’t learnt the lesson from our cataclysmic Election defeat on December 12. If the party picks her, we’ll be condemning ourselves to firstly, being locked out of power and secondly, political oblivion. The Labour Party as it is just won’t exist in ten years.’
But allies of Ms Long Bailey, who has yet to declare officially that she will stand as party leader, dismissed the claims as ‘total nonsense’ and insisted that despite Labour’s Election defeat, it had to stay true to the socialist principles and policies championed by Mr Corbyn.
Ms Long Bailey is favourite to take over due to her appeal to grassroots party members and because she is understood to have teamed up with Angela Rayner, Labour’s high-profile schools spokeswoman, who is running for deputy leader.
To the dismay of rivals, docker’s daughter Ms Long Bailey would meet demands by many members for their next leader to be a woman in a Northern constituency.
But Ms Long Bailey is likely to be face tough competition from ‘soft Left’ Lisa Nandy, another North-West MP, and the party moderates’ favourite, Birmingham MP Jess Phillips – praised by one London MP yesterday as the one anti- Corbyn MP who could appeal to Labour’s mass membership.
However, party grandee Margaret Beckett has said she will back Labour Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer, who is expected to launch his leadership campaign in the New Year despite anger that his Remain stance led to Labour haemorrhaging seats in its so-called ‘red wall’ in the North and Midlands.
An ally of Jeremy Corbyn was kicked out of his trade union job for allegedly slapping a woman’s bottom at a dinner attended by Labour leadership favourite Rebecca Long Bailey.
Unite branch chairman Alec McFadden was accused of inappropriately touching the woman as she got up from their table at the meal.
The incident was said to have happened at a restaurant after an anti-austerity march.
Unite branch chairman Alec McFadden
Mr McFadden strongly denied the allegation but lost his post as a branch chairman in the North West and faced two sets of disciplinary procedures from Unite.
Now, however, he has won his case against the trade union after arguing it should not have been allowed to pursue him twice over the same alleged incident, which occurred in October 2015.
Mr Justice Lavender concluded in an Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling published last week: ‘The union was not entitled to bring the second disciplinary proceedings.’
Unite will now have to pay Mr McFadden a ‘modest amount’ towards his legal costs.
It is another blow to Britain’s biggest trade union in the wake of Labour’s General Election humiliation. Last week it lost a libel case against former Redcar MP Anna Turley over an article on hard-Left website Skwawkbox.
Unite said last night it would appeal against the EAT ruling.
Ms Long Bailey yesterday refused to comment on her campaign team, with sources close to Mr Halligan insisting on Twitter he was ‘not a Stalinist’ and was not running Ms Long Bailey’s campaign.
A spokesman for Mr McDonnell said last night that the Shadow Chancellor had made ‘a conscious decision to have no involvement in the leadership election’.
The spokesman declined to comment on reports that Mr McDonnell – a vocal champion of Ms Long Bailey as leader – had privately met with Momentum activists last week to urge them to get behind her campaign.
There were also reports last night that key party official Karie Murphy, Mr Corbyn’s ex-chief of staff, was moving behind arch-Corbynista and Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon in his expected battle to become deputy party leader – in opposition to Ms Rayner. The Mail on Sunday understands that at last week’s Shadow Cabinet, Ms Rayner openly challenged Mr Corbyn over plans to make party workers redundant in the wake of the disastrous Election defeat. Sources say that after Mr Corbyn told the Shadow Cabinet that Labour had to ‘redouble our efforts’ to challenge the Tory Government, Ms Rayner complained: ‘That’s right, Jeremy, but our staff to help us do that are being taken away.’
Many Labour MPs are furious that party bosses are pressing ahead with staff cuts while leaving Ms Murphy, who helped run the disastrous Election campaign, and party strategy director Seumas Milne in post on salaries of more than £90,000 and £100,000 respectively. The MoS reported a year ago that Ms Murphy and Mr Milne were about to have their work contracts changed from ones fixed to Mr Corbyn’s time in office to being directly and permanently employed by the party.
One Shadow Cabinet member said last night: ‘Rank-and-file staff are being let go when two of the architects of our Election disaster don’t seem to go anywhere. Just think of how many of those blameless staff we could keep if we got rid of Karie and Seumas.’
However, insiders have warned of a possible ‘hefty compensation bill’ if the two key aides were forced out. Even so, outraged party staff facing the axe are said to considering strike action.
A Labour MP and staunch ally of Jeremy Corbyn was able to stand for re-election despite being investigated by police over an allegation of sexual assault.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the MP is being probed over an alleged incident in a city centre nightclub that took place months before the General Election.
It is understood the MP is alleged to have touched someone’s bottom while on the dancefloor.
But the MP, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has strongly denied the allegation against him as ‘wrong and false’.
This paper understands that the police inquiry began before the General Election.
Now Labour party bosses are facing demands to explain why this individual was allowed to stand for re-election as an official candidate when fellow Labour MP Stephen Hepburn was barred from doing so over a sexual harassment claim which he too denied.
The Labour MP and staunch ally of Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) was able to stand for re-election despite being investigated by police over an allegation of sexual assault
Former Jarrow MP Mr Hepburn, who had represented the constituency since 1997, was removed as a candidate just over a week before nominations for the Election closed in November.
He had been accused of targeting a female party member in her 20s at a curry house in 2005 but has branded his treatment by Labour bosses as a ‘stitch-up’.
He has since been replaced as Jarrow MP by a Left-winger, Kate Osborne, who shared an image on social media which appeared to show Theresa May with a gun to her head.
However, party sources last night insisted that the two cases were different, privately claiming that the allegation against the unnamed MP was ‘less serious’ than those faced by Mr Hepburn. They also suggested that as the complaint against the unnamed Corbyn ally had been made to the police, the party could not intervene.
Sources added that as Mr Hepburn had already been suspended from the party pending an inquiry, he ‘could not stand in the Election’.
The unnamed MP had not been suspended and so was able to stand as a Labour candidate.
A party source also sought to distance Mr Corbyn from the row by saying that party disciplinary processes were managed by Labour’s ‘governance and legal unit, not the leader’s office’.
In an official statement last night, a Labour spokesman said: ‘We take all complaints extremely seriously. They are investigated and any appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with the party’s rules and procedures.
‘We can’t comment on individual complaints.’
But last night, other MPs said the affair ‘reeked of double standards’ by Labour bosses.
One said: ‘We all understand the party has to tread very carefully whenever the police are involved.
‘But it does seem grossly unfair for one candidate to be blocked over sexual harassment claims he denied while another wasn’t.
‘The party is going to have to do some explaining over this.’
The police force involved last night confirmed it was ‘investigating an allegation of sexual touching which is reported to have taken place’ in July.
Mr Hepburn declined to comment when contacted except to say that as far as his treatment was concerned, ‘everyone knows it was a stitch-up’.
Mention of Alex Halligan’s name brought a sigh of resignation from moderate Labour MPs aware of the Left-wing activist’s track record.
Not only is he credited with securing Rebecca Long Bailey’s entry into the Commons in 2015, he is also hailed for playing a key role in the election of Jeremy Corbyn later that year.
Mr Halligan, understood to be in his 30s, is well known as a Momentum and Unite organiser in the North West.
But he sprang to greater notoriety in 2017 when he was pictured at the Durham Miners’ Gala wearing a badge with the words ‘Good night Trotskyite’ and a picture of a man threatening another with an ice pick.
On display: Alex Halligan, right, understood to be in his 30s, wearing his controversial badge in 2017
The reference to the brutal killing of Leon Trotsky – a murder carried out at the orders of Stalin – was inescapable. ‘Trotskyite’ is a term of abuse deployed by the most vehement supporters of Stalin who defended his violent methods against enemies such as Trotsky.
But according to one social media report last night, a source close to Mr Halligan protested that despite the badge, ‘he’s not a Stalinist – he’s a mainstream socialist’. Mr Halligan has also been implicated in allegations of bullying on Momentum Facebook groups. But at the time, he said he was ‘shocked and appalled by the allegations made’ and denied involvement.
Mr Halligan, who has been working in Ms Long Bailey’s constituency office, has been described as a close ally of Karie Murphy, Jeremy Corbyn’s former chief of staff – but any close contact with the key Labour figure was played down by other sources last night.
He acted as director of operations for Mr Corbyn’s leadership campaign in 2015, helping to organise rallies and constituency party nominations.
Having previously worked on Unite’s drive to increase the number of working-class and Left-wing MPs, he knew how to win votes in constituency parties.
He once worked for the TUC’s Salford Unemployed Centre and in 2012 said: ‘I come from a rough sort of working-class background.’
Published at Sun, 22 Dec 2019 02:21:22 +0000
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