Why The Telegraph's Call For Tory Votes For Jeremy Corbyn Will Backfire

In the 1970s and 80s, one of the favoured tactics of Trotskyists to shift the politics of the Labour party further left was entryism.

It was a political strategy, adopted by the Militant tendency, in which its members covertly joined Labour in order to exert influence over the party’s policies. It was decried by all sections of the press, not least by the Daily Telegraph.

Now the Telegraph has adopted the same initiative by urging readers to register as Labour party supporters, vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader and thus, supposedly, destroy the party.

Related: Daily Telegraph urges readers to 'doom' Labour by backing Jeremy Corbyn

The Telegraph's article urging its readers to back Jeremy Corbyn The Telegraph’s article urging its readers to back Jeremy Corbyn

This has been criticised by the Electoral Reform Society as cynical and threatening to the democratic process. Many of the 2,700 commenters on the Telegraph website were equally unimpressed.

“For a quality broadsheet,” said one, “it is far too tribal and one-sided”. Another wrote: “Ridiculous article”. A third called it an “infantile joke”.

There were plenty of similar remarks: “a disgraceful campaign”; “fifth-form crap”; the Telegraph “masquerading as the Sun”; “seedy chicanery”; “this is insane”; “vile and dishonourable”. Several pointed out they were Conservative voters but were offended by the Telegraph’s strategy.

A commenter called Amanda Kendal said: “The Telegraph used to be a very high-quality newspaper that could be relied on for excellent, unbiased, un-spun news reporting and clear, separate editorial articles that, even if one did not agree with them, were reasoned and reasonable in tone and approach.

“Irrespective of one’s political views, this is not an example of good public and/or political discourse. Sadly, it illustrates the continuing infantilisation of the UK’s news media that was started by Rupert Murdoch”.

Paul Fisher wrote: “Well done DT. Just when we thought you couldn’t sink any lower you produce this. How about acting like a responsible newspaper?”

Some Telegraph readers thought it would backfire. They referred to the fact that it would be possible for Labour activists to retaliate by adopting the same tactic to derail the Conservative party from the inside.

“If this were the other way around and Labour supporters were trying to nobble a Conservative leadership ballot in a similar fashion”, wrote one, “the Telegraph would be up in arms.

“Isn’t anyone feeling just a little queasy at a mainstream newspaper calling for a democratic election to be undermined and compromised? Or does dumb tribalism trump all?”

The Telegraph itself is not commenting on the matter but it would appear that what must have been an internal office joke inexplicably found its way online. It must have seemed like a great wheeze at the time. In fact, it will surely prove counter-productive by ruining the newspaper’s reputation.

Then again, perhaps the Telegraph doesn’t care. It certainly has form as an unashamedly partisan vote-seeker for the Tories. During the general election, it used its marketing database to urge people to vote Conservative in an email signed by the newspaper’s editor, Chris Evans.

As one of its commenters mentioned, this would be unsurprising if it had been the Sun. But it takes the broadsheet paper into uncharted territory.

It has, of course, always been a Conservative-supporting paper: hence the Torygraph nickname. Even so, this pro-active, anti-Labour gambit is breathtakingly stupid. In so doing, the Telegraph has sacrificed any right to be regarded as a fair-dealing newspaper.

Why should any reader believe its political analysis? And why should the Labour party bother with it in future?

Finally, if we are to take this political intervention at all seriously, consider the fallacious logic. The destruction of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition would result in a one-party state (as Spectator editor Fraser Nelson recognises). Are we to take it therefore that the Telegraph favours totalitarianism?

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