Senior Labour politicians criticise Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, saying they will vote for Smith
Owen Smith’s run for leader of the Labour Party received a boost as two senior Labour politicians backed his candidacy – and criticised his rival Jeremy Corbyn.
Sadiq Khan, Labour Mayor of London, yesterday came out strongly for Smith in an article for the Observer, calling it ‘extremely unlikely’ Labour would win a general election under Jeremy Corbyn, noting his ‘personal ratings are the worst of any opposition leader on record’.
Today Kezia Dugdale, leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, said she would be voting for Smith, saying he understands the need to win over people who didn’t vote Labour in the last general election, and implying Corbyn was only ‘speaking to the converted’.
Jeremy Corbyn is widely considered the favourite, with strong support from the party membership and the backing of the Unite and Unison trade unions. However Smith is ahead of Corbyn among the wider public and has the support of many Labour MPs.
Dugdale, Labour’s most senior female politician, wrote in the Daily Record:
‘Owen Smith gets my vote. I believe he can unite our party and move us on from the divisions that exist under the current leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Owen understands that to have a chance of implementing Labour values, we need to win over some of those who didn’t vote for us at the last election.
We can’t pin our hopes on a leadership who speak only to the converted, rather than speaking to the country as a whole.’
‘As the most senior female elected leader in the Labour Party across the UK, I feel a particular responsibility to speak out.’
Her endorsement follow’s Khan’s intervention yesterday, in which he suggested Corbyn was partly responsible for Britain’s vote to leave the EU on June 23:
‘Jeremy failed to show the leadership we desperately needed [in the EU referendum]. His position on EU membership was never clear – and voters didn’t believe him.’
Khan, whose victory as London Mayor was hailed by all sides of the party, added:
‘And you can’t just blame a ‘hostile media’ and let Jeremy and his team off the hook.
I know from my own election – up against a nasty and divisive Tory campaign – that, if we are strong and clear enough in our convictions, the message will get through to the public.’
Corbyn’s team has called Khan’s remarks ‘disappointing’, while supporters booed mention of his name at an event yesterday in Kilburn, north London.Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.