David Miliband reignites Labour civil war by accusing Jeremy Corbyn of trying to ‘wreck’ Keir Starmer’s leadership with his claim that the 2017 election campaign was sabotaged from within the party

  • The former foreign secretary tore into the ex-opposition leader on Times Radio
  • Corbyn claims he was victim of internal sabotage from disloyal party staff
  • Suggested it may have prevented him from winning the 2017 general election

Labour’s civil war between moderates and the hard Left reignited today as David Miliband accused Jeremy Corbyn of trying to ‘wreck’ the leadership of his successor Sir Keir Starmer.

The former foreign secretary tore into the ex-opposition leader over his claim that internal sabotage from disloyal party staff may have prevented him from winning the 2017 general election. 

Mr Corbyn and senior Corbynistas including John McDonnell are believed to have told an investigation into leaks of party documents that officials sabotaged the campaign, leading to a hung parliament in which Theresa May led a minority government. 

Mr Corbyn quit after leading Labour to its worst defeat in more than 80 years at the 2019 election, and was replaced by Sir Keir in April. 

Speaking to  Times Radio this morning Mr Miliband, who quit as an MP after failing to beat his brother Ed to the party leadership in 2010, said:  ‘This is a pure wrecking tactic from Jeremy Corbyn and the Corbynites’ denial after four successive defeats is a route to more defeats.

‘We learned that after 1992, we got out of denial and we won in ’97. Actually, we won three elections on the trot.

‘When people got to look at Labour in 2017, we couldn’t beat the worst Tory campaign in history… and then when people got the full measure of Jeremy Corbyn in 2019, he led us to the worst election defeat since the 1930s. 

‘So it’s a wrecking tactic, and I hope people understand it for what it is.’

It is believed that Mr Corbyn, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and seven other former shadow ministers and aides have made a submission saying there is ‘overwhelming evidence’ of sabotage from certain staff members in Labour’s headquarters.

According to the Guardian, the document suggests that it is 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’.

The 2017 election was narrowly contested and resulted in a hung parliament, with the Tories winning 318 seats in comparison to Labour’s 262.

The officials, who are not named, were uncooperative and refused to allocate resources to winnable target seats, the submission reportedly argues.

The dossier is said to be strongly opposed by the officials involved, with one of whom allegedly calling it a ‘a mythical ‘stab in the back’ conspiracy theory to absolve themselves’, the Guardian suggests.

Mr Corbyn’s claims, which the newspaper has apparently seen, are made jointly with Labour’s 2017 election committee which includes Mr McDonnell, the former shadow ministers Jon Trickett and Ian Lavery, and five senior aides to Mr Corbyn at the time: Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, Andrew Fisher, Andrew Murray and Steve Howell.

It is reported the joint submission states the group ‘believe that there is clear evidence of factional activity by senior paid employees of the party against the elected leadership of the time’.

They allege that in 2017, officials hostile towards Mr Corbyn set up a shadow operation in Westminster to plot their own election course which included refusing to give potential target seats money and focusing funds on MPs not allied to the former Labour leader.

The submission reportedly argues that if the claims of money being spent in this manner without authority are correct, then it may have constituted fraudulent activity.

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