Shape up or we’ll lose the next election, MPs warn Corbyn

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn stands with Gill Furniss, whose husband, Harry Harpham, died from cancer, and who won the by-election to replace him in the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough parliamentary constituency. PIC: PA
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn stands with Gill Furniss, whose husband, Harry Harpham, died from cancer, and who won the by-election to replace him in the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough parliamentary constituency. PIC: PA
7
Have your say

LABOUR could lose successive general elections unless Jeremy Corbyn dramatically improves its performance, a senior Yorkshire party figure has warned.

Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, a former party vice-chairman, branded the local election results the worst for Labour in 30 years while Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox warned the “clock is ticking” on Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

The pair spoke out on a mixed day for Labour in Yorkshire which saw an increased majority on Bradford Council and taking the Humberside police and crime commissioner post from the Conservatives accompanied by a failure to secure a majority in Kirklees and remaining the biggest party in Calderdale by a single seat.

Nationally, Labour suffered fresh humiliation in Scotland as it was beaten into third place but celebrated in London with the election of Sadiq Khan as mayor after eight years of Conservative control of the capital under Boris Johnson.

Mr Dugher, who was sacked from the shadow cabinet by Mr Corbyn earlier this year, said “a leader of the Opposition should make average gains 400 at local elections and we haven’t come anywhere near those results”.

He said: “Those of us who knocked on an awful lot of doors, as I did, know the reception that we’ve had on the doorstep. Look at the result in Scotland, our inability to make gains in Scotland. Of course we should be doing better.

“This is not a game. There are very high stakes here, we have got to have a party that can defeat the Conservatives.

“At the moment there just isn’t the evidence that is happening. There should be alarm bells ringing at the moment. Why is there a 11 per cent swing against Labour in Nuneaton? That was the moment a year ago we had lost a General Election.

“We haven’t done this badly in a local election since 1985, and we went on to lose two general elections after that.”

Ms Cox hinted that Mr Corbyn would face a leadership challenge if the party position in the opinion polls did not improve in the coming months.

She said: “Jeremy and the leadership need to take responsibility for what’s been a poor night for us. I think we need some decisive leadership from Jeremy.

“The clock is ticking. Jeremy needs to convince members up and down the country we have a strategy to get back into power.”

Senior Labour MP David Winnick called on Mr Corbyn to consider his position.

“The party faces a crisis and the onus is on Jeremy himself. He should decide whether his leadership is helping or hindering the party,” he said.

“I think all the evidence shows that it is not helping.”

Mr Corbyn was in Sheffield to celebrate Labour’s win in the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough election as Gill Furniss succeeded her late husband Harry Harpham as MP.

He said: “All across England last night we were getting predictions that we were going to lose councils. We didn’t.

“We hung on and we grew support in a lot of places.”

Mr Corbyn added: “There is a lot of building to do in Scotland. We are going to be with you.

“We are going to walk hand-in-hand with the party in Scotland to build that support up once again so that the Labour tradition in Scotland will be established once again.”

Asked about speculation over his future, he said: “I’m carrying on. Don’t worry about that. I‘m carrying on. I’m fine. I’m very happy.”

Rotherham offered a bright spot for Labour as it limited UK Independence Party gains to two seats despite the council’s recent troubles.

The party was also untroubled in Wakefield or Leeds and saw the Lib Dems make only a limited improvement in Hull.

Election results: Pages 12-15; Comment: Page 18.