Senior Labour MPs have called on Jeremy Corbyn to resign as Labour leader after his handling of the upcoming vote on military action in Syria caused further splits in the party.
Former Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart said his position had become “unsustainable” while fellow ex-minister John Spellar said Mr Corbyn’s behaviour over the Syria vote had been “unacceptable”.
The Labour leader is also facing an open revolt from a majority of his Shadow Cabinet after he warned his MPs that he could not support David Cameron's plan to launch air strikes on Isis targets in Syria.
Becoming the first Labour MP to publicly call on Mr Corbyn to stand down, Ms Mactaggart, who agrees with him in opposing British intervention in Syria, said his “weak leadership” was causing damaging divisions in the party and was failing the party's responsibility to hold the Government to account.
“He hasn’t got a strategy to lead the party from where it is to where it needs to be and the people of the country can see that,” she told BBC Radio Berkshire.
“I think it [his leadership] probably is unsustainable. The problem is that my party… doesn’t have the hunger for power that the Conservative party has and the Conservative party is good at getting rid of leaders who they can see aren’t getting to lead the party to victory – my party isn’t.”
Asked whether he should stand down, she said: “I think that would be a sensible strategy because I think that the division at the moment is causing real problems.”
Her comments were immediately echoed by Mr Spellar, who told shadow cabinet members not to resign if Mr Corbyn refused to give a free vote on air strikes.
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.”
"Certainly, by the way, they should not resign. They should hold on to those places," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"If anyone should resign after this incident, it should be Jeremy Corbyn."
The Labour leader has cancelled a planned trip to campaign in the Oldham West by-election in order to stay in London to deal with the growing splits in his party over the Syria vote.
Meanwhile John McDonnell, Mr Corbyn's close ally and Shadow Chancellor, took to Twitter to call for calm:
On Syria, can everyone calm down.We're all simply working through the issues & coming to final decision.Don't mistake democracy for division— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) November 27, 2015
Expressing frustration at the Labour party's failure to provide an effective opposition to the Government, Ms Mactaggart said: “I don’t really care that it’s causing problems for the party; I care that it’s causing real problems for the country.
"It’s left a vacuum where the conservatives have been able to portray the Chancellor’s announcements earlier this week as somehow they’re a great liberating cause for working people in Britain when in fact they’re cutting the income of ordinary working people in Britain, where they’re predicting that most people’s income is going to decline in the next five years, where Britain’s productivity is behind every other country in the G7 by an increasing amount.
“This is intolerable and yet we haven’t yet been able to mount that criticism because of weak leadership."
Mr Cameron urged wavering Labour MPs to back military intervention in Syria, telling them to vote with their conscience.
"I thought many Members of Parliament on all sides of the House of Commons yesterday agreed there was a compelling case, so I would urge all of them to vote on the basis of the arguments for effective action on a compelling case to keep our country safe," he said.
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