Labour MPs opposed to Jeremy Corbyn hope to replicate the success of last summer’s left-wing recruitment drive and sign up thousands of new members who will back a centrist candidate in a fresh leadership election.
A series of high-profile politicians and activists, ranging from Jamie Reed to ex-spin doctor Alastair Campbell and novelist Robert Harris, have indicated support for Saving Labour, an online initiative which says the party requires “new, strong leadership”.
The project, whose origins are uncertain, appears designed to repeat the success of the Corbynite membership surge last summer, which propelled the veteran left-winger to a landslide victory in the leadership contest and led to the founding of Momentum, the successor to the Corbyn campaign.
Saving Labour could prove to be the start of the “army of moderates” of which centrist MPs have dreamed if they are to have any chance of beating Corbyn in a leadership vote after he claimed 251,417 votes (59.5 per cent) in September last year.
The website set up by Saving Labour invites supporters to provide their name and email address and bears the message: “Save Labour, save the country. After the [EU] referendum, Britain is at a crossroads. Britain and Labour needs new, strong leadership for the months ahead. Agree that Jeremy Corbyn should step down? Add your name:”
The page appears to have been edited in the last 48 hours following the conclusion of the “no confidence” motion among MPs in which Corbyn was soundly beaten. It previously invited people to submit their details and then generate a standard anti-Corbyn letter to their nearest MP, saying: “It’s time for Jeremy Corbyn to resign for the good of our country. Agree? Email your MP here.” The group’s Facebook page directs visitors to the Labour Party website’s joining page.
The campaign has been endorsed by Campbell, Lord Sugar and Harris, the author of Fatherland.
Campbell, the former communications director to Tony Blair, wrote on Twitter: “Please. If you believe Britain needs strong Opposition party now pls get involved in saving Labour and sign here”
Sugar, endorsed the message, saying: “absolutely he [Corbyn] must go ASAP”.
Yesterday Harris wrote on Twitter: “To support the four-fifths of Labour MPs who have urged Jeremy Corbyn to stand down, please register your view at Saving Labour”.
Reed, Copeland MP, and an opponent of Corbyn who has indicated support for the project, said: “Saving Labour is an organic initiative, as far as I’m aware, designed to allow the overwhelming majority of people who are mainstream, responsible Labour to articulate their concerns at the direction Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are trying to take the Labour Party. It’s time that the voice of those people who want Labour to be a party of government was heard.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is a disaster and Jeremy and John [McDonnell]’s leadership represents the biggest threat to the continued existence of the Labour Party that we have ever seen. Saving Labour is the voice of those who don’t want to hurl abuse and wave placards and there are thousands of new Labour members who joined Labour to support Jeremy but who now have profound regrets at the destruction he is inflicting upon the party, who are urging people to lobby their Labour MP to ensure that Jeremy Corbyn does the responsible thing for our party and country and resigns.”
The founders of Saving Labour are unknown. LabourList has been handed the names of several well-known activists who it is believed are behind the project but they have denied involvement or declined to respond to efforts to contact them.
The initiative comes as supporters of Corbyn embark on their own recruitment drive in readiness for a leadership challenge. Up to 13,000 people joined Labour last week with 60 per cent saying their were doing so to support Corbyn, ITV News reported.