The political elite need to lay off Jeremy Corbyn

Angela Eagle
The unwelcome briefings and the public prophesies of doom and destruction from senior figures in the Labour Party over the past week about Jeremy Corbyn are doing more damage to the Party than they are to the leadership candidate himself. Not only are they harmful, they are disrespectful to Labour Party members and supporters who want the widest possible debate in this Leadership contest. Every candidate in the Leadership and Deputy Leadership elections have the right to be heard and put forward a vision for Labour’s future and, whether you agree with Jeremy or not, he is in the race and is entitled to participate. The political elite need to lay off him or  run the risk of alienating swathes of Labour supporters.

Corbyn

Over thirty-five years in the Labour Party, including my time as Chair of the National Executive Committee and National Policy Forum,  has taught me that the collective wisdom of our members and grassroots should never be dismissed. All views should be respected whatever end of the political spectrum they are.

The Labour Party is a broad church and all of our constituency activists and trade unionists, Councillors, members and registered supporters have a legitimate place in deciding our new Leadership team under our rules.  Attacking those for supporting a particular candidate is a dangerous game and not in the spirt this election should be conducted.

The talk of coups,  remarks about not serving in Shadow Cabinets and former Prime Minister’s telling people to get ‘heart transplants’ have no place here.

Indeed, many of the questions Jeremy Corbyn  has raised in his campaign are pertinent for the Labour Party’s future; the failure of ‘austerity-lite’ as a policy offer to the UK people in 2015, the need to reformulate the Party’s political economic approach in the light of the financial crash of 2008 and continuing inequality and of course the cruel social security spending cuts affecting some of the poorest people in our country.

Many of the issues that he has highlighted, which incidentally some of the other Leadership candidates have talked about too,  should indeed be on the agenda of any newly elected leadership of the Labour Party. The housing crisis in swathes of the country and social ‘cleansing’ of large areas in London and the South, the need to invest in public services and not default to failed market models to rebuild our economy, putting environmental issues higher up the political agenda, and replacing the politics of fear which dominates the debate on immigration with a more hopeful narrative that celebrates our diversity. These are the issues that people have wanted to talk to me about as i’ve toured the country on my own Deputy Leadership campaign.

Jeremy’s intervention in this contest has certainly generated interest and sparked debate –  this is something that we in the Labour Party should welcome.

Party figures shouldn’t attack him or indeed use his involvement as an argument to move to the right.

If I’m elected Deputy Leader, there will be a place for all views and opinions in the Labour Party. I’ll make sure of that by uniting us and prepare us to fight the real enemy – the Tories.

Angela Eagle is the MP for Wallasey and is Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. She is standing to be Labour’s next Deputy Leader.

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