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Tue, 29 September 2020

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David Miliband accuses Jeremy Corbyn of trying to 'wreck' Keir Starmer's leadership with claim Labour staff sabotaged 2017 election

David Miliband accuses Jeremy Corbyn of trying to 'wreck' Keir Starmer's leadership with claim Labour staff sabotaged 2017 election

David Miliband has hit out at Jeremy Corbyn's comments about party staff

3 min read

David Miliband has accused Jeremy Corbyn of using "wrecking tactics" against Keir Starmer after he accused some Labour staff of sabotaging the 2017 election.

Mr Corbyn, alongside former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and seven other former shadow ministers, have accused party staff of deliberately scuppering the 2017 election due to factional differences.

The comments came as part of a submission to an internal inquiry into the leaking of a 860-page dossier which alleged some Labour officials had intentionally starved target seats of funds.

The submission, seen by The Guardian, accused a group of staffers of setting up a "shadow operation" to sabotage Mr Corbyn's chances of becoming prime minister, saying claims about the use of funds should be investigated by the inquiry to establish "whether it may have constituted fraudulent activity".

The claims are strongly denied by the members of staff identified in the report, with some now suing the party for data breaches and libel.

Speaking over the weekend, allies of the former Labour leader said it was "not impossible that Jeremy Corbyn might now be in his third year as a Labour prime minister were it not for the unauthorised, unilateral action taken by a handful of senior party officials".

But the comments drew fury from Mr Miliband, the former Labour foreign secretary and one-time leadership hopeful, who said the effort to blame party staff was a "pure wrecking tactic from Jeremy Corbyn and the Corbynites".

In an interview with Times Radio, Mr Miliband said: "Denial after four successive defeats is a route to more defeats.

"We learnt that after 1992 and we got out of denial and we won in 1997 and actually we won three elections on the trot."

He added: "If we don't really understand that when people got a look at Labour in 2017 and we couldn't defeat the worst Tory campaign in history - 750,000 votes we were behind.

"And then when people got a full measure of Jeremy Corbyn in 2019 he led us to the worst election defeat since the 1930s. It is a wrecking tactic and I hope people understand it for what it is."

Sir Keir Starmer has ordered lawyer Martin Forde QC to lead the inquiry into the leaked dossier, with the deadline for the submission for evidence closing on Friday.

But speaking to The Guardian, one party official said there was "not one piece of actual evidence" for Mr Corbyn's claims.

"The leaked report contains no evidence that party staff did not try and do the best they could to win the 2017 election. Not one piece of actual evidence," they said.

"Pro-Corbyn staff inspected tens of thousands of former staff emails in January 2020 to try and find evidence of their ridiculous conspiracy theory.

"They found nothing because it is not real. They are trying to build a mythical ‘stab in the back’ conspiracy theory to absolve themselves of the consequences of their incompetence."

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