On 21 October Times senior political correspondent Lucy Fisher and chief political correspondent Michael Savage published an article about the AWL entitled “Hard-left Corbynites dismissed as softies”, glued together with out of context quotations, snippets from Facebook, gossip, inversion of reality and anonymous sources.
The article refers to the Workers’ Liberty pamphlet Transform the labour movement – aim for a workers’ government, which it quotes fleetingly. Some of what it says is true (for instance, we do indeed call for Labour MPs to take only a skilled worker's wage "in... solidarity with workers"), but overall it is yet another shoddy pseudo-journalistic piece about our relationship to Momentum.
It is gratifying that two of the Times’ most senior journalists have devoted 700-odd words to reporting the publication of an AWL pamphlet (which we certainly think is significant). However it looks like one more attempt to “shit stir” in Momentum and the Labour Party.
Laughably, the article also cites comments I’ve made on Facebook, as part of discussions with other Momentum activists.
The basic thrust seems to be to present the AWL as a disruptive force trying to start a civil war in Momentum. Anyone who has read our material or worked with us will know this is a serious distortion of reality. We are, for sure, sharply critical of the Momentum leadership, and want to significantly deepen and develop the organisation's program and change its overall direction - but as a committed and constructive part of it. (Does this mean none of us have ever been rude on Facebook? Clearly not.)
The article repeats the claim, never justified but widely made in the right-wing press, that the AWL is "proscribed by Labour". This may be what Blairite briefers are saying behind the scenes, but it is not true. The reason some of us have been expelled is not because we are banned but because the right-wing fringe of the Labour Party controls the Compliance Unit's machinery of expulsion.
Bizarrely, the Times implies - and quotes an anonymous "Momentum source" that implies - that we regard Jackie Walker’s removal as Vice Chair of Momentum’s steering committee as part of a “Stalinist witch-hunt against Trotskyists, or... an attempt to spark one”. The words quoted actually refer to the Stalinist Morning Star newspaper attacking us for supporting the removal of Walker (see “Morning Star witch-hunts ‘Zionists’ and Trotskyists”).