John Prescott says some 'bitter' Blairites are trying to sabotage Labour's election chances

Without naming MPs, Lord Prescott dubbed the former Brown and Blair advisors 'Bitterites'

Jon Stone
Sunday 27 March 2016 11:07 BST
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott

A small number of MPs hostile to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership are seeking to sabotage the party’s chances in order to depose him, John Prescott has said.

The former deputy prime minister under the last Labour government argued that the leader’s internal opponents were “gutted” that some recent poll results were improving for Labour.

He accused the unnamed MPs of briefing against Mr Corbyn and said they were trying to harm the party’s poll lead by stoking up negative stories.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn enjoys strong support from Labour members but opposition from some of his own MPs

“Sadly, a small number of MPs – I call them Bitterites – are still desperate to remove Corbyn. They’re gutted the Tories are in chaos and Labour edging ahead,” he wrote in an article for the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

“The main Bitterite MPs – whose only ‘skill’ seems to have been press spokesmen for Blair and Brown – want to drive down Labour’s standing in the polls and encourage bad results in this May’s elections.”

Recent voting intention polls have shown Labour’s poll standing improving – with the party drawing level or just above the Conservatives in some surveys.

Mr Corbyn’s personal ratings have also improved somewhat, with Ipsos MORI now showing him with higher ratings than David Cameron – though with methodological caveats, and still well below previous leaders.

Though critics point to poll leads under Ed Miliband and warn they will not last, the results are likely to shore-up Mr Corbyn’s position within the party.

After a brief period in which the media agenda focused on the Government’s Budget, a leaked document purporting to illustrate splits in the Labour party was released to The Times newspaper the day before Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Prime Minister used the document to attack Mr Corbyn and deflect his questions at the confrontation.

One persistent critic of Mr Corbyn, John Woodcock, tweeted after the encounter: “F***ing disaster. Worse [sic] week for Cameron since he came in and that stupid f***ing list makes us into a laughing stock” – before quickly deleting it.

Mr Woodcock later said he was “sharing frustration with a colleague” – having accidentally posted a private message to his main timeline.

Persistent rumours have circulated that Mr Corbyn might be the subject of a coup by hostile Labour MPs – with whom he has struggled to find strong support, despite the overwhelming backing of party members.

Polls show he would win any leadership content in which he were to feature by a landslide.

Shadow international development secretary Diane Abbott has said it would be “foolish” for Mr Corbyn’s critics to strike against him, while former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has said the Labour leader should be given at least a year to show whether he is up to the job.

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