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Len McCluskey accuses PR company of masterminding Labour leadership crisis

Portland Communications dismisses Unite chief's claim as ‘a ridiculous conspiracy theory and completely untrue’

Andy McSmith
Sunday 03 July 2016 18:09 BST
Len McCluskey says 'sinister forces' are behind Corbyn coup

The leader of Britain’s biggest union has accused a public relations company of being the “sinister” mastermind behind the current crisis engulfing the Labour leadership.

Jeremy Corbyn is expected to face a leadership challenge in the coming week after Labour MPs voted by 172-40 last week that they have no confidence in him. He has defied calls to resign from former shadow cabinet colleagues, and several ex-leaders of the Labour Party including Ed Miliband.

The latest call came from Neil Kinnock, who led Labour from 1983 to 1992. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that there is “no basis on which Jeremy really could or should stay” after losing the support of his fellow MPs.

But the general secretary of the Unite union, which helped Jeremy Corbyn win his leadership victory last year, claimed that left wing MPs who have joined the call for Mr Corbyn's resignation have been manipulated by Portland Communications, a public relations company set up by Tim Allan, who previously worked under Tony Blair as a Downing Street spin doctor.

During his appearance on the Marr programme, Len McCluskey did not give any evidence to support the allegation, which Mr Allan claimed is “completely untrue.”

Mr McCluskey said: “I’ll be honest: I’m amazed that some of the MPs have fallen into a trap. I think they’ve been seduced by sinister forces.

“If the BBC want to do an investigatory programme of a company called Portland, feel free to do so. This is a PR company with strong links to Tony Blair and right wing Labour MPs who’ve been involved in this orchestrated coup, and the coup has failed.”

A tweet from Portland Communications demanded that he retract the allegation, saying: “This is a ridiculous conspiracy theory and completely untrue. He should withdraw.”

Mr McCluskey also brushed aside the calls from ex-leaders for Mr Corbyn to go. He said: “It’s not helpful for ex-leaders to be wheeled out . Neil (Kinnock) is a nice man but the reality is he was leader of the Labour Party for eight years and lost two elections; Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party five years, and lost an election; Gordon Brown – 13 years at the top of our party – lost an election. Grandees being dragged out to be part of this unedifying coup is quite outrageous.”

Watson on Corbyn

He added: “This has been a political lynching of a decent man – undermined, humiliated, attacked in order to push him out. The truth is, it’s failed – the coup has failed. Jeremy Corbyn is made of sterner stuff. He is a man of steel who has made it clear that he will not step down.”

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