Former minister warns of ‘civil war’ in Labour Party

'A bunch of old Trotskyites are not going win political power'


A former minister under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown has warned that civil war will break out within the Parliamentary Labour Party following Jeremy Corbyn’s election victory.

The comments by Kim Howells, Labour MP for Pontypridd between 1989 and 2010, come in this evening’s edition of Week In Week Out, due to air on BBC One Wales.

Asked how he would respond to the current leadership, Howells, who ran the NUM Pontypridd office which co-ordinated the South Wales miners’ efforts during the miners’ strike in the eighties, told the programme:

“I’d be bitterly opposed to the current leadership of the Labour Party.

“I’d be saying things that I believe about the need to win political power and a bunch of old Trotskyites are not going win political power.”

Arguing that the party had to “start speaking in a language people can understand and convince the electorate”, he warned:

“There is going to be a civil war inside the parliamentary Labour Party. It’s nothing new, it’s happened in the past,” he added.

“So the party’s got to make its mind up – does it really think it’s going to win again in the future, with Corbyn as the leader? I don’t think so.”

With crucial elections next year to the Welsh Assembly, the MP for Ogmore, Huw Irranca-Davies, who is co-ordinating Labour’s assembly election campaign, has insisted that in Wales the fight back will not become “the Jeremy show”. Instead, he argues that it is First Minister Carwyn Jones who will be “right at the front” of the party’s campaign.

Richard Wyn Jones, professor of Welsh Politics at Cardiff University, will warn also tonight of tensions and difficulties between an opposition Labour Party at Westminster and a governing one in Wales. He will explain:

“Welsh Labour has been running Wales since 1999 and the kinds of pressures that you face when governing are very different from ones the Jeremy Corbyn had to face as, essentially, a campaigning backbench MP. And it’s easy to envisage that leading to real tensions.

“Now this may well all end in tears. However, I think there’s a really interesting phenomenon here and we need to be very careful before we dismiss it.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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