Labour HQ 'spent £5,000 tricking Jeremy Corbyn' in Facebook ad ruse
Labour staff targeted Jeremy Corbyn and his closest allies with Facebook adverts in a bid to convince his team that they were running campaigns he he backed, it has been claimed.
Tom Baldwin, Ed Miliband’s former director of communications, has alleged that Labour HQ spent £5,000 of party cash during last June’s general election campaign to convince the leader that his ads were being displayed to a large section of the population.
However, the campaigns had instead been solely micro-targeted at his close aides, allies and supportive journalists after being spiked by Labour staffers who believed they were too left-wing.
In Mr Baldwin's new book, previewed in the Sunday Times, a Labour official says: "They wanted us to spend a fortune on some schemes like the one they had to encourage voter registration, but we only had to spend about £5,000 to make sure Jeremy’s people, some journalists and bloggers saw it was there on Facebook.
"And if it was there for them, they thought it must be there for everyone. It wasn’t. That’s how targeted ads work."
Facebook’s targeted ad platform has been widely used by British political parties in recent years because it allows parties to target small groups of voters with individualised messages at a relatively low cost.
According to Mr Baldwin, while the party was concealing the left-wing campaigns designed by Mr Corbyn’s team, it was spending tens of thousands promoting other targeted messages at voters.
The alleged ruse has already sparked a furious backlash from those close to the Labour leader.
A Labour source told the Sunday Times: "Despite fighting with one hand tied behind our backs by some uncooperative senior staff, we achieved the largest increase in the Labour vote since 1945.
“At the next election, we’ll have a fantastic and co-operative party machine to match our incredible mass membership and popular policies.”
Meanwhile, former Jeremy Corbyn spokesperson Matt Zarb-Cousin said: "Imagine if the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party] and party staffers just got on with their jobs, we might actually be in government now."
He added: "The brass neck of that lot saying Corbyn failed by not getting a majority in 2017, when they were actively sabotaging the leadership from within for years and explicitly so during the general election campaign. No wonder they had faces like smacked arses when the exit poll landed."
The grassroots pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum also weighed in, saying the apparent plot by some figures in Labour headquarters amounted to "sabotage".
"Our party has to change," they added.