Labour MPs should ensure that they are representing their constituents in Parliament – and not just members of their own party, Dan Jarvis has said.
Mr Jarvis, a backbencher widely seen in Westminster as a potential candidate to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader, said he was not a “delegate” sent to Parliament by Labour members.
On Thursday morning Mr Jarvis sketched out his views on the economy in a speech – arguing that his party should champion “a government that is more active, businesses that look to the long term, and trade unions that stand up for our workers”.
He called for a Government that was “more radical” than Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and Ed Miliband – but warned that he would not be beholden to the party’s membership, which polls show overwhelmingly supports Mr Corbyn.
“As a Labour MP I’m not a delegate for my local party, I’ve been elected to Parliament by my constituents to stand up for them and make sure their voice is heard in Parliament,” he said.
“In the end I don’t think we should ever lose sight that the public get to decide and I think we that need to make sure that having lost two general elections, our policies are rooted in the things that people care about.
“Yes, we must listen to a range of different voices, yes it’s incredibly important that we have that internal debate within the party, but we should never lose sight of the fact that what we need is a Labour government and that in the end it will be the public, the people of this country, who get to decide whether that’s what we have or not.”
Labour’s membership has doubled in size since Mr Corbyn was elected leader in September and polls suggest the leader would be comfortably returned with increased support in a leadership contest in which he featured.
Mr Jarvis dodged directly answering a question about whether he thought Mr Corbyn would automatically be allowed to stand in the event of a leadership contest – or whether he would have to secure nominations from Labour MPs, with whom he has struggled to find support.
He also warned that the series of local and regional elections in May would be “a major test” for the party.
The party’s rules do not explicitly spell out whether Mr Corbyn would automatically be able to stand in a challenge, but the leader’s office has said it believes this would be the case.
In what appeared to be a coded criticism of the shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Mr Jarvis began his speech by warning that the people who Labour was founded to help “do not attend economic seminars”.
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.”
Mr McDonnell, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, has championed a free series of seminars in an attempt to dispel myths about the economy.
Mr Jarvis later said he welcomed the fact that Mr Corbyn had prompted an open debate about the party’s future.
Elsewhere in the body of his speech Mr Jarvis suggested a number of policies including allowing a non-political national infrastructure commission to decide major infrastructure investments, repealing the Government’s trade union bill, and involving trade unions in the retraining of workers.
He argued that New Labour had had successes and also made mistakes, telling his audience: “We should defend our achievements and learn from our mistakes. To anyone else outside Westminster that is common sense.”