Sectarian ultra-left are endangering the Labour party, says Neil Kinnock

Momentum has described the claims made by Channel 4 Dispatches as 'slurs' 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a Momentum event at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in central London.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a Momentum event at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in central London.

Neil Kinnock, a former Labour leader, has suggested the “sectarian ultra-left” speaking at Momentum events risk endangering the party as a political force.

Appearing on Channel 4’s Dispatches, Lord Kinnock, the opposition leader between 1983 and 1992, added that he was concerned decent and enthusiastic young people are being “manipulated” by "people from the hard left organising in a less-than-transparent way to secure their age-old objective, the control of the Labour Party".

The programme entitled The Battle for the Labour Party, which explores Momentum – the grassroots campaign launched to back Mr Corbyn after his leadership victory in 2015 – claims it has uncovered new evidence that the group is being influenced by "hard left revolutionaries". It adds that local branches of the group have campaigned for mandatory reselection of dissenting Labour MPs – a claim dismissed by Momentum itself.

Speaking to The Independent, however, a senior source within the group dismissed the episode as a "damp squib". They added: "Wouldn't you be pissed off if you had an undercover reporter in for five months and that was your film?"

First aired on Monday the Dispatches programme sees an undercover reporter spend six months working with Momentum. It comes after Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, claimed this summer that the party was being infiltrated by “Trotskyist entryists”, sparking a bitter row at the top of the party’s ranks.

"When they manage to secure organisational form, either surreptitiously or ... more in the open - in the form of for instance, Momentum - then they actually endanger the standing and appeal of the Labour Party which is why I regard them to be political foes," Lord Kinnock added.

"If there are enough people like that in such an organisation and particularly in the leadership of such an organisation then an inquiry would be certainly appropriate, in order to safeguard the well-being and good name of the Labour Party."

Momentum, however, described many of the claims as "slurs" and denied suggestions it may have been involved in a misuse of campaign funds and a mishandling of personal data. A spokesman added: "Those of the accusations made on the basis of information gained by Gesh (Mohammed, the undercover reporter) which are true are freely admitted. Many of them are a matter of public record.

"Others could have been learned by openly attending public meetings, or by simply asking a question, rather than through lying.

"Other 'allegations' are, properly analysed, slurs or matters of opinion which will raise more concerns about the impartiality of the broadcaster than anything else."

Professor Tim Bale told Dispatches: “Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) and other Trotskyite entryist organisations will try and get their members into the Labour party and attempt to take over branches and take constituency labour parties by becoming officers at local level and once they’ve done that they’re in a position to push the labour party as they see it to a more left-wing policy platform.”

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “Channel 4 has a remit to deliver high quality news and current affairs, and a track record for investigative journalism and holding those in power to account.

“This is a vital piece of investigative journalism, on an issue of critical national importance to everyone in the UK particularly in a period of political flux.”

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