Jeremy Corbyn and Len McCluskey will both take to the stage at Edinburgh Festival Fringe today. The two men will take part in a show called ‘Politics and Poetry with Corbyn and McCluskey’. Mr Corbyn, the MP for Islington North, will be joined by his comrade as they chart their political journeys and open up about their shared love of poetry. Mr McCluskey, who retired as general secretary of the Unite union last year, will also make a solo appearance tomorrow for ‘In Conversation with… Len McCluskey’.
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn also has another Fringe show this afternoon, while appearing again tomorrow as part of the ‘All Talk’ series with Iain Dale.
The broadcaster is grilling a string of politicians at this year’s festival, including Diane Abbott, Nadine Dorries, Angela Rayner, Rory Stewart, and Mr Corbyn’s successor as Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer.
Mr Corbyn, who was elected Labour leader in 2015 was replaced by Sir Keir in 2020.
It was during his stint in charge of the party that Mr Corbyn faced “dark practices” from the country’s security services, according to outlandish unearthed claims by Mr McCluskey.
The union boss said MI5 staff may have posed as Mr Corbyn supporters to “stir up trouble” for the then-Labour leader.
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Speaking to The Guardian in 2016, Mr McCluskey alleged that the intelligence agency may have been behind the abuse and intimidation of MPs on social media who criticised Mr Corbyn.
He referred to laws commonly known as the 30-year rule, under which Government documents can be released publicly after three decades, which he claimed could reveal MI5’s involvement.
The union boss was asked if he thought the targeting of Mr Corbyn’s critics was carried out by people pretending to be his supporters.
He said: “Of course, of course. Do people believe for one second that the security forces are not involved in dark practices?
“I have been around long enough … the type of stuff that we ultimately find out about, about who was involved in who, the 30-year rule.
He replied: “Well I tell you what, anybody who thinks that that isn’t happening doesn’t live in the same world that I live in.
“Do you think that there’s not all kinds of rightwingers who are not secretly able to disguise themselves and stir up trouble? I find it amazing if people think that isn’t happening.”
As well as the Government source, figures from the left also doubted the union boss’s claims about MI5.
Labour’s former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith lambasted Mr McCluskey’s accusations on Twitter.
She dubbed them a “downright insult to the dedicated staff of MI5 who are actually working day and night to protect us from terrorism”.
Meanwhile, former Labour leadership hopeful Angela Eagle, who was a target of abuse herself, also gave her verdict on the MI5 claims.
She said: “I’ve known Len for 40 years. I worked with him and other trade unions on combating the Tories’ awful trade union bill and on stopping Sunday trading changes, and he knows I spent years working for the trade union movement. His comments are over the top.”