Reports in a leading British newspaper, the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times, alleged on January 21 that supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were planning a purge of the party by plotting to deselect prominent opponents of his, preventing them from standing in future elections.
The Sunday Times contacted us at 9pm, half an hour before print. The story is based on one unnamed source. Others on twitter say they rewrote half the paper at the last minute as their big story was pulled.— Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) 21 January 2018
Desperate for a new front page, have @thesundaytimes just made this up? pic.twitter.com/FU9aOUmBs1
Among the alleged targets of the purge are Hilary Benn and Chris Leslie. Benn, who chairs the Exiting the European Union Select Committee which scrutinizes the government's negotiations with the EU, is among the Labour Party's most prominent "Remain" supporters. His position on remaining in the EU Single Market is in marked contrast to Mr. Corbyn's refusals to guarantee that a future Labour government who lobby to stay in the body.
The Labour Party's grassroots activist wing "Momentum" which has been widely accused of garnering support for the alleged "purge" responded on Twitter, criticizing The Sunday Times for allegedly contacting it only half an hour before publication and its citing of an anonymous source in support of its claims.
Sunday Times contacted Momentum just 30 mins before printing ‘purge’ dross— Michael (@therightarticle) 22 January 2018
“The Sunday Times printed an appallingly poor article accusing Momentum of planned and current ‘putsches’ against right-wing Labour candidates.” https://t.co/RcALt19KNK pic.twitter.com/UiSyCPaiOe
Many reacting on social media to the story have alleged that the mainstream print-media is more threatened by the Labour Party's recent rise in membership and popularity as compared with the reputed mere 70,000 members of the Conservative Party.
Yep we will be working hard on deselecting 50+ MP’s! Though they will be all tory MP’s not Labour MP’s!— emyr rees (@Emz5048) 21 January 2018
As Rupert Murdoch's @thesundaytimes readership continues to decline & @PeoplesMomentum— russjackson (@docrussjackson) 22 January 2018
& @UKLabour membership contunues to grow, the Deputy Editor @SarahbaxterSTM gets blocked by a Labour supporter & suddenly there's a 'purge'?
Sarah, look up 'psychological #projection'. https://t.co/iLsLFaSdCs
The use of the word 'purge' to describe the recent changes in the Labour Party is misleading and intentionally inflammatory — people are not being 'purged', they're just losing elections because the majority of voters prefer different candidates with different views. pic.twitter.com/gaKOkoUgty
— Theresa May's Demons (@StopTheresa_May) 17 January 2018
Accusations of Corbyn supporters "purge" their opponents from the party have been made since his winning the leadership of the Labour Party in September 2015 but have intensified since the Party's elections for its National Executive Council. The results which were announced on January 15 were a sweeping victory for the Labour leader's supporters as all three top positions were taken by grassroots activists, including the founder of Momentum, Jon Lansman.