Leeds MP Benn tells Labour moderates they are the guardians of the party’s values

Hilary Benn gave a passionate speech at a meeting of Labour moderates
Hilary Benn gave a passionate speech at a meeting of Labour moderates
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LEEDS CENTRAL MP Hilary Benn has told Labour moderates they are the guardians of the party’s values and urged them to focus on talking to the British people.

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn stressed Labour belongs to all its members while Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher said moderate voices in the party are “going nowhere”.

All sections of the party have called for unity in the wake of Mr Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership election on Saturday,

But the strains were evident yesterday as discussions over the return of shadow cabinet elections - seen by some as a way of giving Labour MPs more control over the party’s direction - were delayed and Mr Corbyn refused to rule out MPs facing deselection.

His re-election as Labour leader has triggered talk of moderate members leaving the party amid concern they will be the focus of attacks from Corbyn supporters but Mr Benn urged them to remain.

The former Shadow Foreign Secretary said: “Just because someone else is in the gutter trying to pull you down that’s no reason to go and join them there.

“We are better than that and we should take heart because the Labour Party belongs to every single one of us.

“I joined when I was 17 years of age, I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for 45 years. I’ve given my life, as all of us in this room have done to the Labour Party and the Labour movement.

“The values that have made Labour such a powerful force in our country in bringing about change for the better and the values that have enabled us to win Labour representation in Parliament from Keir Hardie onwards are alive and well and we are their guardians.

“The real task is to give the British people a sense of hope about the future. That is what we must turn our minds to now.

“We cannot talk amongst ourselves, we certainly cannot carry on arguing amongst ourselves. We have to face outward.”

Mr Benn said the party should be focused on addressing concerns from “profound change” in the world.

He was speaking at a meeting of the Labour First group, held away from the main conference venue, which also heard from Pontefract, Castleford and Normanton MP Yvette Cooper and former Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle.