A recent Financial Times profile will have given the controversial blogger a much-needed ego boost.
After Bastani had his job offer at centre-left think tank IPPR withdrawn, and with Novara Media, the Alt-left site he co-founded, believed to be struggling, the piece couldn’t have come at a better time. It repeats Novara’s claim to have a Facebook reach of 4 million and concludes that “this is here to stay”.
However, the reality is less encouraging. A quick scroll through Novara’s YouTube channel shows that interviews with Diane Abbott and Owen Jones have received only 4,000 and 10,000 views respectively. For context, the Guardian columnist’s own videos receive several times more views than that, often hitting six figures.
Recent changes to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm also appears to have hurt Novara’s social media reach. While they regularly received hundreds of thousands of views on videos during the 2016 Labour Party leadership election and last year’s general election, this year they have struggled to receive more than 20,000.
The fact that Bastani is looking for a way out confirms that the future may not be as bright as suggested by the FT’s article. The piece claimed that it was after the intervention of MPs and trustees of IPPR that the offer of the new role as ‘Head of New Media’ was withdrawn. However, we understand that staff at the organisation also voiced their opposition to the hire, with the accusations against Bastani cited in a Red Roar article causing fresh concern in addition to his “aggressive” conduct on Twitter.
Following the decision, Bastani took to Facebook to criticise IPPR (although not by name) as “stale, boring, and let’s be real, irrelevant,” full of “affluent red princelings with no ideas, tenacity or ambition.”
But as well as being too toxic for the centre-left, Bastani burnt his bridges with Jeremy Corbyn’s top team when he failed to back their candidate for the General Secretary position, Jennie Formby, appearing to support Momentum owner, Jon Lansman, instead.
Once viewed as a potential employee by LOTO, Bastani was publicly shunned when Corbyn unfollowed him on Twitter.
Saturday’s victory for Janet Daby in the Lewisham East selection dealt another blow to Bastani, who worked on Sakina Sheikh’s unsuccessful campaign. He has since blamed the defeat on Unite, Claudia Webbe’s candidacy, and the royal wedding, and launched a campaign against the CLP chair, Ian Mckenzie. This wasn’t Bastani’s first failed foray into Lewisham Labour politics, having been Secretary of neighbouring CLP, Lewisham West & Penge, for a matter of weeks in 2016 before stepping down because of the workload.
Some writers at Alt-left sites view the medium as a route into mainstream journalism, rather than primarily an ideological project, like those behind Skwawkbox. That Aaron Bastani is now too toxic for mainstream organisations, thanks in part to the abusive behaviour on social media that the Alt-left see as necessary to promote their products, suggests that budding young writers are better off steering clear of the Alt-left.