Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith. Credit Matt Cardy and Jeff J Mitchell for Getty
- Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership with 61.8pc
- Corbyn increases his mandate from 2015
- Owen Smith calls for unity after his defeat
- Warning that more ‘warfare’ could follow in party
Jeremy Corbyn has urged Labour to “wipe the slate clean” after he was re-elected as party leader following a bitter campaign which saw him defeat challenger Owen Smith.
Mr Corbyn said both he and Mr Smith were part of the “same Labour family” as he appealed for unity after winning 61.8% of the vote.
He thanked voters in the contest for their “trust and support” after receiving 313,209 of the votes cast, compared with 193,229 for Mr Smith.
Jeremy Corbyn. Credit Joe Giddens PA Wire
The view from Wales
Defeated Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith can still play a key role in his party’s bid to oust the Conservatives from Number 10, Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones believes.
Welsh Labour leader Mr Jones believes his fellow countryman still has plenty to offer.
He said: “To Owen, I offer my commiserations – he has fought a good campaign, and I know he will be looking forward to turning his focus, and channelling his tenacity, towards the Tory benches in the months ahead.”
Mr Jones also passed on his congratulations to the returning Mr Corbyn – saying it was “exceptional” to win two leadership contests.
However, the former barrister echoed fellow Labour colleagues in saying the party must now unite if it is to mount a serious challenge to the Tories.
Abbott: ‘It’s a resounding victory’
Diane Abbott, one of Mr Corbyn’s closest allies, said: “I think it’s a resounding victory.
“It’s a bigger margin than last time in the face of a nastier and more bitter campaign than last time and I hope that now the Parliamentary Labour Party will settle down and unite behind the leader.
“Those that quit the shadow cabinet, I would urge them to rethink.”
John McDonnell on shadow cabinet elections
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: “Jeremy has got an increased mandate, extraordinary really.
“It was tough because we had 130,000 members ruled out and that would have added another five or seven or eight per cent to his vote I think.
“But, nevertheless, he still got 61.8%.”
Mr McDonnell said there would be a “discussion” about calls from MPs for them to have a vote on who sits in the shadow cabinet.
He added: “I think the spirit now at the end of this election campaign is one of coming together.”
Breakout Box: Owen Smith On Jeremy Corbyn
“I want to congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on his clear win in this leadership contest. There is no doubt that the Labour Party has changed under his leadership, he has mobilised huge numbers of people over the last 12 months, many of whom are here at Conference in Liverpool, and he deserves the credit for that, and for winning this contest so decisively.
“I am humbled by the more than 193,000 members, supporters and trade union members who have put their faith in me and I want to say a big thank you to them. It has been a privilege to meet so many of you, who have given so much of your lives to Labour, and I promise to continue to work for what we all believe in. It has been a huge honour for me to stand for leader of our great party and I am also deeply grateful to my Parliamentary colleagues for nominating me.
“I entered this race because I didn’t think Jeremy was providing the leadership we needed, and because I felt we must renew our party to win back the voters’ trust and respect. However, I fully accept and respect the result and I will reflect carefully on it and on what role I might play in future to help Labour win again for the British people.
“I have no time for talk of a split in the Labour movement – it’s Labour or nothing for me. And although today’s result shows that our movement remains divided, it now falls primarily to Jeremy Corbyn, as Labour Leader, to heal those divisions and to unite our movement. We have to turn round our dire opinion poll ratings and take on this right wing, failing Tory Government. Jeremy has won this contest. He now has to win the country and he will have my support in trying to do so.
“Above all, despite present divisions, we have to stick together in for the long term. I call on those party members disappointed by the result and tempted to look elsewhere to stay with Labour and to stay involved. Let’s work together to renew this movement and take the fight to the Tories.
“I want to say thank you to my campaign team, and particular my wonderful campaign chairs, Kate Green, Heidi Alexander, and Lisa Nandy.
“I want to thank Iain McNicol, the Labour Party staff and ERS who have all worked tirelessly and professionally during this contest.
“And, most importantly, I want to thank my family who have made huge sacrifices for me during this campaign and in recent years. I’m going to be at Conference today and tomorrow before returning home to Wales to spend some precious time with them.”
Don’t be afraid of Jeremy Corbyn. Be afraid of what comes after him
Socialist Corbyn set for re-election as leader of split UK Labour
LIVERPOOL (AFP) –
Socialist Jeremy Corbyn is set to be re-elected head of Britain’s opposition Labour party on Saturday, emerging victorious from a power struggle with MPs which threatens to tear the historic movement apart.
Ahead of the announcement of the result in Liverpool, northwest England, Corbyn issued a plea for unity after the bitter campaign and reached out to supporters of his rival Owen Smith.
“Whatever the result, whatever the margin, we all have a duty to unite, cherish and build our movement,” said the 67-year-old, who is expected to win a clear majority.
But Corbyn’s victory will be a bitter pill to swallow for the majority of Labour MPs who rebelled against him after June’s Brexit referendum, accusing him of not campaigning hard enough to keep Britain in the EU.
There are now fears that without a strong Labour opposition, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives may be heading for a “hard Brexit” that would take Britain not only out of the European Union but also out of Europe’s single market.
Senior party figures are pleading with MPs opposed to Corbyn to come back and work with him after the expected win — but also say he needs to do better.
Labour’s home affairs spokesman Andy Burnham told BBC radio that, while the “war of attrition” must stop, Corbyn must also build more support among the public, not just Labour activists.
“No-one gets the right to take Labour down to a devastating (election) defeat,” he added.
Corbyn claims his anti-austerity message has energised people who had long given up on mainstream politics, yet critics say he is unelectable.
They also accuse his supporters of intimidation and of trying to take over the party.
“This is not going anywhere anytime soon. It is entrenched warfare,” said Steven Fielding, an expert on Labour at the University of Nottingham.
“There will be no victor in the short term, apart from the Conservatives, of course, who are laughing all the way to the next election,” he added.
– ‘Furthest from power since ’30s’ –
Corbyn was first elected last year with 59 percent of the vote from party members, and with strong backing from trade unions, but was immediately criticised by MPs who say his left-wing views are outdated.
The divisions widened in the following months and reached breaking point with the EU referendum, which triggered mass resignations from his shadow cabinet and a vote of no confidence in his leadership by 172 of the party’s 230 MPs.
But the threat against Corbyn faded into a whimper when lawmakers backed the relatively unknown Smith to challenge for the leadership.
Few commentators believed Smith could win, and the contest appears only to have entrenched divisions between Corbyn and Labour’s MPs.
Former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband, a centrist narrowly beaten to the party leadership by his brother Ed in 2010, wrote in the New Statesman magazine this week: “We have not been further from power since the 1930s.”
– ‘Unhappy family’ –
Corbyn has been in parliament since 1983 and strongly opposed the party’s centrist “New Labour” prime minister Tony Blair, who won three elections.
The bearded vegetarian, who had never held high office before becoming leader but set up a mass protest movement against the Iraq War, has a messianic appeal to supporters who have packed his rallies around the country.
Corbyn supporters were planning to unfurl a banner in support of his fight for “social justice” at Anfield Saturday before Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Hull City.
But his message does not appear to have resonated with the wider electorate. Labour lags behind May’s Conservatives in the opinion polls, while his personal ratings are dire.
While some in Labour have suggested they could form a new centre-left party, analysts say most will do everything to avoid this.
“It looks to me like a miserable, unhappy family trying to coexist,” said Tony Travers, a politics expert at the London School of Economics.