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Labour frontbencher hires Paul Mason’s services

Peter Summers/Getty Images

This week Labour has been making much hay out of the Afghanistan debacle. Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy is all over the news berating Boris Johnson for not taking enough refugees, not being prepared for the collapse of the Afghan army and for not sacking Dominic Raab over his holiday shenanigans. There have, admittedly, been few actual policy suggestions for what could have been done differently but the collective tone of Nandy and her colleagues has been one of shock, angst and despair at the way Western forces have left the conflict-ravaged country.

So Mr S was intrigued to discover that Nandy’s fellow frontbencher John Healey has been paying for the services of one comrade who struck a somewhat different note this week. Receipts for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) show the shadow Defence Secretary billed the taxpayer £3,600 back in March for policy research services from Exarcheia Ltd, the one-man media company run by Paul Mason. The ex Newsnight economics editor and Workers’ Power supporter quit Channel 4 back in 2016 to give full vent to his left-wing views, free from the constraints of broadcasting rules.

Mason was a vocal supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, publicly railing against ‘the neoliberal warmongers of the Labour right.’ He backed Starmer for leader after the 2019 election catastrophe, though not without managing to get himself embroiled in a sectarian controversy over comments he made about Rebecca Long-Bailey’s views on abortion.

But his views on military intervention overseas would still appear to differ somewhat from many on the Labour front bench, having published a sneering article on Monday titled ‘While you were glamping, Afghanistan has fallen.’ In it, Mason lauds those ‘Labour left stalwarts like Jeremy Corbyn [who] stood continually and on principle against the intervention’ in Afghanistan– somewhat awkward perhaps, given Healey was on the other side of the indicative vote on

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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