My latest post at Spinwatch:
In the days following the mass resignation of Labour MPs from Jeremy Corbyn's shadow Cabinet, a number of prominent Labour figures expressed support for Saving Labour, a website dedicated to signing up party members in support for Corbyn's departure.
Despite the backing of luminaries from Yvette Cooper to Robert Harris and J.K. Rowling, the site's provenance is remarkably opaque. The Labourlist blog has described its origins as 'uncertain' despite a claim by the Copeland MP Jamie Reed that 'Saving Labour is an organic initiative, as far as I’m aware'.
Peter Edwards reported:
The founders of Saving Labour are unknown. LabourList has been handed the names of several well-known activists who it is believed are behind the project but they have denied involvement or declined to respond to efforts to contact them.
According to WHOIS data, the website appears to have been registered by an anonymous client, on 25 June 2016, two days after the EU referendum, and the day before Hilary Benn's dismissal as Shadow Foreign Secretary.
Saving Labour was also entered in the Data Protection Register at a separate address on 27 June. This location in Canterbury is also listed at Companies House as the correspondence address of Denys Alan Reg Race, a director of Quality Health Ltd. According to data from 192.com, Race and his wife Amanda Moore are also on the electoral register at this residential address.
Ironically, Race was himself a left-wing MP and ally of Corbyn in the 1980s. However, by the time he contested Tony Benn's former seat of Chesterfield in 2001 he was described by the Guardian as a 'Blairite poodle'.
After leaving Parliament, he and his wife Amanda Moore set up Quality Health, which carries out staff and patient surveys for the NHS. The Telegraph quoted a former member of Neil Kinnock's shadow cabinet saying of Race's new career: 'Reg was one of the most disruptive, hardline Labour MPs. A lot of people make their peace with capitalism later on in life. I wasn't expecting Reg to though.'
Race faced controversy in 2008 when it emerged that he had a private meeting at the Department of Health with the then Secretary of State, Alan Johnson, having made the largest single donation, some £5000, to Johnson's deputy leadership campaign the previous year. The Sunday Times of 4 February 2008 reported: 'Race's company is one of a select group of "approved contractors" that health trusts must hire to conduct staff and patient surveys. The company, which Race owns with his wife Amanda Moore, has contracts with 320 of the 487 NHS trusts to conduct annual surveys introduced by Labour ministers in 2003.'
Email and phone messages from Spinwatch to Quality Health seeking an explanation for the coincidence in address between its managing director and Saving Labour have not received a substantive response at the time of publication.
Thanks to Naadir Jeewa for identifying the Saving Labour entry in the ICO register and other contributions to this story.