Labour demands inquiry into Tory call to ‘weaponise fake news’
Labour’s Deputy Leader and Party Chair Angela Rayner says the Conservative Party must investigate after a Tory newsletter urged its members to “weaponise fake news”.
The newsletter said the Party should “make enough dubious claims” to ensure “honest speakers are overwhelmed” and “crowd out” the truth.
Rayner has written to Amanda Milling, Chair of the Conservative Party, to demand an inquiry, and for her to condemn its contents or confirm whether it is now Conservative Party policy.
Rayner has also demanded that the inquiry investigate allegations that a young Conservative activist, who raised concerns about the content of the Wellingborough newsletter, has received “several threatening phone calls warning him his political career would be destroyed if he did not fall into line”.
Full text of letter from Angela Rayner to Amanda Milling:
I am writing to you following deeply concerning reports regarding behaviour within one of the Conservative Party’s local associations in Wellingborough.
The allegations include:
An official newsletter has been circulated by Wellingborough Conservative Association praising Donald Trump’s dishonesty and lying, encouraging Conservatives to “make enough dubious claims” to ensure “honest speakers are overwhelmed”, and “weaponise fake news” in order to “crowd out” the truth.
That one young local Conservative activist who raised concerns about the content of the newsletter was removed from the Conservative candidates’ list and has received, “several threatening phone calls warning him that his political career would be destroyed if he did not fall into line”.
The public rightly expect honesty and integrity from political parties, elected politicians, candidates and local party activists. A Conservative Party newsletter that encourages members and politicians to openly lie raises serious questions that demand urgent answers:
- Will you now launch an investigation into the actions of Wellingborough Conservative Association, including who wrote the newsletter, how it was paid for and who had oversight of?
- Will disciplinary action be taken against any member of the Conservative Party who wrote, edited or distributed the newsletter?
- Was the Member of Parliament for Wellingborough, Peter Bone MP, aware of the contents of this newsletter? If so, did he approve the contents of the newsletter and will he now make his position clear?
- Is it true that a local activist, Jack Summers, was removed from a list of Conservative candidates because he raised concerns about the content of the leaflet? If so, who took this decision, and were you or staff at CCHQ aware of it?
- Will an investigation be launched into allegations that Jack Summers has received “several threatening phone calls warning him his political career would be destroyed if he did not fall into line” after raising concerns about the contents of the newsletter?
- Will you, as Chair of the Conservative Party publicly condemn the content of the newsletter and the threatening behaviour towards Jack Summers, and issue guidance to Conservative Associations and Conservative Party members, including Members of Parliament and local Councillors, about the importance of honesty and integrity in our politics?
- If not, can you confirm whether it is now Conservative Party policy to “weaponise fake news” and censure party members who speak out against it, and have other Conservative MPs, local associations, party members and activists also been encouraged to do so?
After the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary refused to speak out when President Trump was claiming victory and alleging fraud in the US presidential election, this newsletter seems to demonstrate that the Conservative Party is copying from Donald Trump’s playbook and implementing a political strategy of weaponising fake news, making dishonest statements and telling brazen lies in order to “crowd out” and “overwhelm” the truth.
Given the importance of honesty and integrity in our politics, values which I am sure that you would want to uphold as Chair of the Conservative Party, I look forward to your early response to the questions I have asked.
Angela Rayner MP
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Party Chair
Link to the newsletter: https://t.co/RXUu1R6bb0?amp=1