SUGGESTIONS that an anti-Corbyn organisation could use its data to influence a union leadership election “raises questions about democracy and accountability,” shadow cabinet member Jon Trickett said yesterday. Saving Labour was established in June as a vehicle to call for Jeremy Corbyn to resign, and is backed by former MP Reg Race.
It claims to have recruited 120,000 supporters to vote in the Labour leadership election through sponsored ads online and in social media. It has amassed a database of more than 60,000 supporters.
And a Labour MP who supports Saving Labour said this weekend that the group could use the data to promote a “moderate” candidate in a general secretary election in Unite, Labour’s largest affiliate.
“As I understand it from conversations that, yes, it would want to try to get involved in making moderate progressive views heard throughout the movement and that may be in the Unite general secretary’s election,” Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said.
Mr Race is a one-time hard-left activist who later took millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money for his company’s outsourced work for the NHS.
He has refused to reveal the firm’s financial backers before they are published by the electoral commission.
Shadow business secretary and Labour executive member Jon Trickett told the Star: “There’s something slightly odd about an organisation that has appeared from nowhere and appears to be led by a man whose political journey raises interesting questions.
“It was purportedly created to save Labour, but appears to be threatening to engage in trade union elections. That raises questions about internal democracy and accountability.
“At the very least, there are questions about funding membership directors of the organisation.”
A Unite spokesman said: “The leadership of Unite is a matter for Unite members alone. All experience shows that trade union members strongly resent interference by politicians in union business. We hope Graham Jones and the mysterious backers of Saving Labour will reflect on this.”
Labour insiders have also speculated that Owen Smith’s leadership campaign could retain its own data to use in future factional manoeuvres. Former party executive member Luke Akehurst, the secretary of right-wing group Labour First, tweeted last week that Mr Smith winning the election was “not the main point of having a contest.”