Jeremy Corbyn should take ‘vow of silence’ so Keir Starmer can rebuild Labour – Jayne Dowle

WITH his total tin ear for the mood of the country, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn chose his moment to weigh into his fellow MPs.

This was Jeremy Corbyn, the then Labour leader, and his wife Laura Alvarez cating their votes on election day last December.

Speaking last week in an interview for a political podcast, he launched an extraordinary public attack on his Parliamentary colleagues, accusing them of “a great deal of hostility” towards him when he was party leader.

Mr Corbyn was replaced in April by Sir Keir Starmer following Labour’s disastrous 2019 General Election defeat when a string of former ‘red wall’ constituencies across the North fell.

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He told his interviewer that perhaps he had only 15 political friends out of 650 Westminster MPs. This is interesting. I must have missed something in the five and a half years he was leader.

Jeremy Corbyn continues to be blamed for the scale of Labour's election defeat last December.

We criticise the Government for duplicity, but let’s not forget that much of the blame for Boris Johnson’s easy assumption of the keys to Number 10 must be laid at the feet of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.

If his party had been able to form a credible Opposition, it’s arguable that the Conservatives would not have romped to victory on December 12.

And if Labour MPs, who seemingly were so hostile to poor Mr Corbyn, had had the courage to challenge his grip instead of sitting back and allowing the whole horror show to unfold, the blue and red map of the UK could have looked a whole lot different.

So determined were they to put on a show of solidarity, they lost their grip on the bigger – and ultimately more important – picture.

Sir Keir Starmer succeeded Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in April - is he doing a good job? Jayne Dowle poses the question.

Hindsight, of course, is a wonderful thing. As that other controversial Labour leader once said, things can only get better. Let bygones be bygones.

Jeremy Corbyn did enough damage to the Labour party when he was in charge. If he really cares about the good of this country, he should keep his dignity, and his views on MPs to himself.

Call me cynical, but I’m sure it wasn’t any coincidence that he chose to express his trenchant views because his successor now seems to be really impressing the public.

A new YouGov opinion poll shows that the public now think that Sir Keir would make a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson, who is currently on holiday in Scotland. The Labour leader is shown to be up three points to 35 per cent in support, overtaking Mr Johnson, dropping slightly to 31 per cent.

The feat for Labour now is to capitalise on this progress, take confidence from it and find a way to filter it down through MPs. Nowhere is this more crucial than in our region. MPs in Labour seats which didn’t fall to the Tories in December saw their majorities slashed.

Brexit split the vote along unprecedented lines. If it really is ‘done’ as the Prime Minister says, we have to put the whole debacle behind us and look at priorities closer to home.

This new poll also shows movement in the right direction for Labour on voting intention, with the Conservatives dropping four points to 40 per cent and Labour gaining three to reach 38 per cent. There’s everything to play for here and I hope that Labour MPs communicate this adroitly to their constituents and beyond.

If such positive news is coming down from the top, it needs to be reflected at all level – local, regional and national – when Parliament resumes after the summer recess. Sir Keir must continue his admirable work in holding the Prime Minister to account in the House of Commons.

Don’t worry, I’m not putting the cart before the horse. The last thing a battered and bruised country needs is any kind of snap election. It’s irresponsible to advocate this drastic course of action.

However Labour must be ready when the next election does come. Voters need to feel confident that the Opposition have a full sweep of policies which address their concerns directly.

There is so much scope to make headway. In fact, I’d go so far that Labour in Opposition have never had it so good. The NHS, social care, education, jobs and the huge trillion-plus national debt. How’s that for starters?

This new poll shows Labour level-pegging with the Tories on the question of which party is the most competent. This is crucial. Leading Labour figures such as Alastair Campbell say that Sir Keir and his front bench haven’t been doing enough to force change on disasters such as the exams scandal.

However, the rejoinder to this is that the main focus has been on internal party reform. The idea is that this behind-the-scenes work will contribute to the presentation of Labour as a competent party - and one ready for government at some stage.

Quiet competence in place of bluff and bluster. After the storms of 2020, we could all benefit from that.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson