Labour MPs from the party’s Blairite wing have been acting like they were “born to rule” and entitled to choose its leader, a veteran MP has said.
Ronnie Campbell, the long-serving MP for Blyth Valley in Northumberland, said Blairites should keep their “mouths shut” and let the party’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn get on with his job.
In an interview with Parliament’s internal magazine The House, Mr Campbell hit out against recent apparent disloyalty and whispering campaigns by internal opponents of Mr Corbyn.
“I get a little bit sick of seeing these people, the same people, coming along causing more trouble in the Labour party. I was told to shut up when Blair got elected and to let Blair get on. And we did,” he told the magazine.
“They are like the Tory establishment. The Tory establishment think they have the right to govern the country at any time. The Blairites are doing exactly the same. They are saying ‘we have the right to rule this party of ours’.”
So-called “Blairite” candidate from the party’s right wing Liz Kendall won only 4.5 per cent of the vote in the party’s leadership contest. The moderate candidates Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham did better but were still left in the dust by Mr Corbyn’s shock runaway campaign.
Mr Campbell said Mr Corbyn was elected by members because they were “fed up of the same old Blairite, Progress policies” and suggested some from Labour’s right might be “in the wrong party”.
“I remember when Blair got elected I wasn't happy but I was told to keep my mouth shut. I think they have got to do the same as what we were told. Let Jeremy get on with the job. Keep your mouths shut,” he advised.
He however predicted that the party’s left wing would be “f*****d” and “doomed” if Mr Corbyn lost the 2020 election with left-wing policies.
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
1/11 He called Hezbollah and Hamas ‘friends’
True. In a speech made to the Stop the War Coalition in 2009, Mr Corbyn called representatives from both groups “friends” after inviting them to Parliament. He later told Channel 4 he wanted both groups, who have factions designated as international terror organisations, to be “part of the debate” for the Middle East peace process. “I use (the word ‘friends’) in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk,” he added. “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No.”
2/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy’
Partly false. David Cameron used this as a line of attack at the Conservative Party conference but appears to have left out all context from Mr Corbyn’s original remarks. In an 2011 interview on Iranian television, the then-backbencher said the fact the al-Qaeda leader was not put on trial was the tragedy, continuing: “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
3/11 He is ‘haunted’ by the legacy of his ‘evil’ great-great-grandfather
False. A Daily Express exposé revealed that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James Sargent, was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse. Addressing the report at the Labour conference, Mr Corbyn said he had never heard of him before, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise for not doing the decent thing and going back in time and having a chat with him about his appalling behaviour.”
4/11 Jeremy Corbyn raised a motion about ‘pigeon bombs’ in Parliament
This one is true. On 21 May 2004, Mr Corbyn raised an early day motion entitled “pigeon bombs”, proposing that the House register being “appalled but barely surprised” that MI5 reportedly proposed to load pigeons with explosives as a weapon. The motion continued: “The House… believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.” It was not carried.
5/11 He rides a Communist bicycle
False. A report in The Times referred to Mr Corbyn, known for his cycling, riding a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle” earlier this year. “Less thorough journalists might have referred to it as just a bicycle, but no, so we have to conclude that whenever we see somebody on a bicycle from now on, there goes another supporter of Chairman Mao,” he later joked.
6/11 'Jeremy Corbyn will appoint a special minister for Jews'
False so far. The Sun report in December was allegedly based on a “rumour” passed to the paper by a Daily Express columnist who has written pieces critical of the Labour leader in the past. The minister did not materialise in his shadow cabinet.
7/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn wishes Britain would abolish its Army’
False. Another gem from The Sun took comments made at a Hiroshima remembrance parade in August 2012 where Mr Corbyn supported Costa Rica’s move to abolish it armed forces. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world…abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army,” he added. The caveat that “every politician” must take the step suggests Mr Corbyn does not support UK disarmament just yet.
8/11 Jeremy Corbyn stole sandwiches meant for veterans
False. The Guido Fawkes blog claimed that the Labour leader took sandwiches meant for veterans at at Battle of Britain memorial service in September but a photo later emerged showing him being handed one by Costa volunteers, who later confirmed they were given to all guests.
9/11 He missed the induction into the Queen’s privy council
True. After much speculation about Mr Corbyn’s republican views and willingness to bow to the monarch, his office confirmed that he did not attend the official induction to the privy council because of a prior engagement, but did not rule out joining the body.
10/11 Jeremy Corbyn refuses to sing the national anthem.
Partly true. The Labour leader was filmed standing in silence as God Save the Queen was sung at a Battle of Britain remembrance service but will reportedly sing it in future. Mr Corbyn was elusive on the issue in an interview, saying he would show memorials “respect in the proper way”, but sources said he would sing the anthem at future occasions.
11/11 He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese
True. The group lists its purpose as the following: “To increase awareness of issues surrounding the dairy industry and focus on economic issues affecting the dairy industry and producers.”
Though Mr Corbyn was elected by a landslide by Labour members, supporters, and affiliated trade unionists in September, he has faced opposition from his own MPs from day one.
A recent shadow cabinet reshuffle saw Mr Corbyn sack two ministers for alleged disloyalty. One of the sackings, of shadow Europe minister Pat McFadden, prompted a series of resignations from the party’s front bench.
Regular weekly meetings of the parliamentary Labour party have also become a media spectacle, with dissenting MPs briefing the media on scraps and disagreements and journalists loitering around outside the rooms the meetings are held in.
Mr Campbell, a former coal miner who took part in the 1984 miner’s strike, has represented his seat since 1987.
During the industrial dispute he was arrested twice and banned from going within two miles of a local coal mine.
Though hailing from the left wing of the party, he has remained on the back benches under Mr Corbyn’s leadership.