A group founded by JML tat tycoon John Mills has been accused of misleading Labour supporters after sending numerous emails, asking for money, in which they appear to be portraying themselves as an official Party organisation.
Their communications feature a logo (right, bottom) clearly designed to look like the official Labour one (right, top) - and it is unclear where they have obtained the contact data for their cash grabbing campaign.
And although they claim to support Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, a very slight scratch below the surface reveals something VERY different - quite the opposite, in fact.
Labour Future, a limited company set up by Mills last year, is sending the plea for donations in a format oddly similar to those sent by Momentum - with one major difference - nobody could 'mistake' Momentum's for official Labour.
The subject line reads 'Stand With Jeremy Corbyn', and there's even a nice picture of him on their website, but a look through the ranks of Labour Future would seem to indicate that they intend to do anything but.
Firstly we have Mr Mills himself, who famously announced he was stopping donations to Labour in 2015 after Corbyn became leader. Instead he said he would be prepared to support a group of MPs dubbed 'The Resistance' - read 'core group hostile'.
Then we have Paul Blanchard - a self-declared Blairite who kept a framed letter from Blaire on his office wall. His contribution to Labour's election campaign was two articles for the Huffington Post. The first, on June 8th, was entitled 'I Love The Labour Party - And That's Why I Want Them To Lose' which begins:
" I love the Labour Party, and I’ve been a member for 25 years. And I sincerely hope, with all my heart, not only that we lose today, but that we lose catastrophically. I say this because I worry a close defeat will leave Jeremy Corbyn and his baying Corbynistas in control of my beloved party. Corbyn, who won leadership by a huge mandate in 2015, has already weathered centrist opposition and said that he won’t step down after the election no matter what happens. A narrow defeat will only embolden him, and prove in his idealistic, unrealistic eyes that he’s the right man to take Labour forward. But if Labour lose catastrophically—not just badly, but to the point that it damages the party in its current form—there’s a chance of Corbyn walking."
Gets you right there, doesn't it? A week later, he followed up with 'We Must Not Let Corbyn Get Away With This' which continues in the same vein:
" The childish I-told-you-so attitude Corbyn has shown since the results came in on Friday only proves further that he is completely inappropriate for the party and completely incompetent as a leader. He believes that his leadership has been vindicated when any half-decent Labour leader would have ground Theresa May into dust and taken the keys to Number 10. Corbyn had his best-ever chance to win against a failed Prime Minister with zero charisma and a Conservative Party in a perpetual state of civil war and he still blew it. I’ve worked in the media for two decades, and even I don’t know how you can spin that as a “win". Here’s what will happen now: May will form a government with the DUP. At some point in the not-so-distant future the Tories will elect someone who does have conviction and charisma. And then they will guarantee that Labour remains in Opposition while they cut deeper and deeper and hurt those who need help the most. Nothing that happened last week has changed the fact that he is an unelectable hard-left demagogue with a checkered history that includes cosying up to terrorists and taking money from a theocracy with nuclear ambitions. And if we are going to help those who Corbyn claims to represent, we need to ditch him."
In case anyone missed those two gems, his Twitter timeline includes a number of things which might be described as unusual for any genuine socialist, including retweets for a Guido Fawkes 'writer', the Sun's odious Tom Newton-Dunn, and insults to miners - not to mention that hilarious Corbyn/Titanic tweet......
And then of course there's this - retweeting a Tory MP, with the addition of his personal take on the Labour leader.... safe to say there will be no chats of 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn' at casa Blanchard any time soon.
Last but not least - Michael O'Sullivan, self styled 'digital diva' and failed Hammersmith council candidate (that's him their with Chuka), signed the emails asking for donations. Given the string of failed businesses Mike has left in his wake, maybe not the best choice for a fundraising appeal? That said, it is clearly something he has experience of, having launched or promoted at least 3 appeals via Facebook and crowdfunding portals.
When asked to clarify whether Labour Future was an official organisation, and where the money would be going, this was his response. Incidentally, I didn't 'follow' them - they automatically 'sign you up' just for making an enquiry on their website's contact form. A possible explanation of where they got the data for their email campaign?
Michael also had a few things to say on Twitter, including some less than helpful comments during the Stoke byelection and some helpful retweets for Labour First...
But since we screenshotted these, he's gone all shy...
Labour Future's 'survey' held during the election campaign had some odd questions, which seem more intended to establish political leanings, specifically in terms of party leadership, than contribute anything useful to the campaign. As well as the ones pictured, they also asked 'Are you a member of Momentum?'
The organisation also has a Facebook presence, and it was here that the first rumblings of suspicion arose. Labour members and supporters were uneasy to find that they were being asked for cash, especially by a group they had honestly believed to be an official arm of the party. Some had already sent donations.
It was also disturbing to find them promoting the fake news that Tony Blair had 'saved' Corbyn from potential deselection - more than a week after it had been refuted as the nonsense it was.
Labour Future has recently launched a video channel named 'Labour Tube', which states its content as 'Official Labour Party Video Blogs, Interviews & Exclusive Content'. To date the biggest share of its Youtube content has been offerings promoting John Mills' latest book.
The Prole Star has contacted Labour Future again with the following email:
' Dear Mr O'Sullivan
Could you please clarify whether Labour Future is an official part of the Labour Party - it has been suggested that your logo is designed to look like the official one at a glance, and might lead people to believe that your emails come from Labour.
Please could you also clarify where any donations sent as a result of your email campaign would go, and what they would be used for?
It has been suggested that your organisation, whilst using images of Jeremy Corbyn on its website and claiming to support the leadership, is actually populated by people who hold quite the opposite view.
It would be helpful if you could give me a response to these queries to assist with a piece due to feature on a blog site - I did ask via your contact form but have only received what I imagine is an automatic reply.'
At the time of writing, we have as yet received no response.
As the image below (Source: IPSA) shows, Labour Future has not to date made any donations to Labour. Our advice to anyone considering a donation would be to find out a lot more first - it might walk like a duck and quack like a duck, but that don't always mean it's a duck.