In recent weeks a little known site has got many Labour insiders and journalists scratching their heads.
What is this website, the SKWAWKBOX, that is using inside information from the top of Unite and the Labour Party and where is it getting it?
This site that has been around since 2009 has recently started running detailed articles against Tom Watson, against Gerard Coyne and opponents of Jeremy Corbyn. The articles are almost exclusively about these subjects and use inside information as well as quotes from on and off the record sources.
I use my column to keep people up to date on events that happen in the Labour Party and a site that went from 5,000 views in October to 267,000 in March is certainly of note.
What is behind it?
First of all the site is run by Unite activist Steven Walker from Liverpool. Multiple sources tell me that he has very high level links in Corbyn’s network and in Unite. The site’s address comes from his initials.
Second of all it is promoted by sources close to Jeremy. His de facto Chief of Staff Karie Murphy has even been tweeting links to it. However Karie Murphy has contacted me to say that she does not brief or know Skwawkbox. She said, "I have confirmed to you that I don't know him and have never spoken to him - that's the facts".
Third where are they getting their information? They repeatedly quote senior sources at the top of the Labour Party and Unite and release compromising information, such as this attack on Iain McNicol.
Clearly you have to make the assumption that people who are briefing Mr Walker are close to both Len McCluskey and Jeremy Corbyn, but I do understand from insiders that this is indeed the case.
I also understand from people close to Jeremy that Jeremy’s office is very distrustful of the mainstream media and Jeremy has of course said this publicly. The sharp rise in traffic from this site can be attributed to anonymous sources feeding it information that is pro-Jeremy and Len McCluskey and anti-Tom Watson and Gerard Coyne.
It’s of note that Jeremy supporters are increasingly turning to internet websites like SKWAWKBOX to get their message across and I understand from sources close to Jeremy that this is a deliberate strategy. Eoin Clarke, the Canary and Aaron Bastani are just some of the alternative sources used by Jeremy’s office.
The huge traffic levels show that they have been successful at reaching an audience and SKWAWKBOX's articles have certainly been widely talked about and shared.
It will be interesting to see how this strategy continues and develops.
I asked Jeremy's office if they wanted to comment on this article but they didn't want to comment. I would also add that this article isn't meant to be an attack on anyone, it's a comment piece about the use of alternative media.
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