Socialist Worker

Labour staffers bought adverts to deceive Corbyn

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2613

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the Durham Miners Gala

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the Durham Miners' Gala (Pic: Neil Terry)


Labour Party bureaucrats spent thousands of pounds to trick Jeremy Corbyn into believing they were running a radical campaign on Facebook during the 2017 election. In the meantime they spent thousands more on spreading a more right wing message than Corbyn wanted.

Officials at Labour Party headquarters conspired to deceive Corbyn and his team because they didn’t like Labour’s radical message in the run-up to the election.

They spent £5,000 on “targeted” adverts designed to be seen solely by Corbyn, his team, and his closest left wing journalists on Facebook.

They spent far more on adverts with a less radical message aimed at a much wider audience.

The revelations were exposed in a new book by a former Labour spin doctor and verified by the Sunday Times newspaper.

The book, Ctrl Alt Delete: How Politics and the Media Crashed Our Democracy by Tom Baldwin, says full time Labour staff regarded Corbyn’s campaign as “a waste of money”.

One unnamed official boasts how they tricked Corbyn into believing the adverts he saw on Facebook were appearing in front of a much wider audience.

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“We only had to spend about £5,000 to make sure Jeremy’s people, some journalists and ­bloggers saw it was there on Facebook,” they said.

“And if it was there for them, they thought it must be there for everyone. It wasn’t. That’s how ­targeted ads can work.”

Labour defied its critics to narrowly miss winning the general election with a left wing manifesto and a campaign centred on mass protest-style rallies.

Yet the new revelations show the extent to which right wing, undemocratic forces have tried to ­undermine Labour’s leadership—and the members who support it.

Labour’s 552,000 members overwhelmingly support Corbyn as leader. But they are faced with MPs and officials who want Labour to appeal for right wing votes and pander to big business.

During Corbyn’s second ­leadership election in 2016, when MPs tried to overthrow Corbyn, Labour officials worked to expel members or exclude them from voting.

Labour’s structures—geared towards parliament and elections—give this minority disproportionate power which is used against the membership.

And in a sign of the Labour machine’s contempt for members, a former high ranking official derided the idea that MPs or councillors should be accountable.

John Stolliday resigned as Labour’s head of governance and legal department after Corbyn supporter Jennie Formby was appointed general secretary in April.

He used his resignation speech to describe how Labour’s rules had “kept in check” the membership.

He added, “It is not mass democracy to subordinate the will of the Parliamentary Labour Party or Labour groups in local government or Labour’s affiliates—it is a tyranny of a majority.”


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