Beleaguered Corbyn ‘unable to tackle working-class disillusion’

Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher
Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher
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LABOUR will not reverse the draining away of its support in working-class communities until Jeremy Corbyn is replaced as leader, according to a former shadow cabinet member.

The Barnsley East MP and former shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher is among a number of senior Yorkshire politicians gravely concerned by the failure of traditional Labour voters to back Remain in last week’s EU referendum.

Mr Dugher, who was sacked by Mr Corbyn in his January reshuffle, said: “Seventeen million voted against what the Labour Party was campaigning for, and that includes millions of working-class traditional Labour voters.

“They did that because they looked at our leadership and they just thought that we were completely out of touch on the issues that mattered most them in their lives.”

“The Labour Party has no right to exist and we are going to have to work really hard to re-connect with our traditional supporters and working class people.

“That’s the big priority and Jeremy Corbyn is utterly incapable of doing that.”

Yorkshire’s longest-standing Labour MP, Barry Sheerman, said Jeremy Corbyn’s lacklustre campaign to keep Britain in the EU had cost him his sizeable mandate.

The Huddersfield MP insisted Mr Corbyn would not be protected by the large mandate of 
party members that helped get him elected as Labour leader in 2015.

“Those who voted for Jeremy Corbyn are totally despondent. At a demonstration on Saturday people heckled, shouted and booed,” he said.

“A mandate lasts as long as the perception of performance does. ... And I say this with pain. I like Jeremy, he’s a nice man but I don’t think leader of the Labour Party is what he is cut out to be.”

Mr Sheerman said many who voted for Mr Corbyn during the Labour leadership have been bitterly disappointed by his campaigning during the EU referendum and there are no guarantees every single one of those who paid a £3 membership fee to vote for him still wholeheartedly support him.

Asked how people in Yorkshire would respond to the sacking of Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn, he said: “Very badly indeed.”

However, Labour’s York Central MP Rachel Maskell said personality politics was at play and insisted that Mr Corbyn remains popular with the party membership.

She said the party needs to urgently pull back from a “very dangerous situation” while the country is in the midst of a constitutional and economic crisis.

Ms Maskell also claimed Mr Corbyn worked “flat out” on his EU campaign.

She said: “Jeremy has his door open every Wednesday afternoon where you can go and talk to him and I take advantage of that.

“I believe politics is about pushing forward the ideas that we gather from our constituents and making things happen on the ground.

“Jeremy listens when I talk to him about the issues of mental health and the floods in York and that’s what we have got to do is continue to ensure that all MPs engage with that process and work with the leader.

“Whoever that leader is, it is insignificant as compared to what the leader does and he listens and that’s why he [Mr Corbyn] is popular with party members.”