Blairites should 'keep their mouths shut' and get behind Jeremy Corbyn, veteran Labour MP advises

Ronnie Campbell said he was sick of the leader's internal opponents 'causing trouble'

Jon Stone
Thursday 21 January 2016 21:02 GMT
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons (PA)

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.

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.

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