‘Fury, despair, miserable' - Labour MPs tear into Jeremy Corbyn at post-election meeting
A raft of Labour MPs tore into Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership team at a meeting in Parliament to discuss their disastrous election results.
Veteran backbencher Margaret Hodge said “it was fury, despair, miserable” as she accused the party’s senior figures of “corporate amnesia”.
And former shadow Cabinet minister Rachel Reeves said she told Mr Corbyn “the biggest drag on the support at this election was him and his leadership.”
She said after leaving the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting: “And if we want to change the lives of the people we came in to politics to serve, then we’ve got to win power and that has not been possible two times under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
“We need radical change, we need a party and a leader that the country can trust.
“We need economic policies that add up, and we need somebody who actually wants to win, as we know it’s only through power that we can change the lives of people.”
The MP for Ilford North, Wes Streeting, said of Mr Corbyn’s address to colleagues: “To quote Theresa may, ‘nothing has changed’.
“Nothing about the tone and content of what we heard reflected an election defeat worse than 1935.”
He added that it was “just like business as usual”, a feeling echoed by Ms Hodge, who said a few of the party’s new MPs “sang from the hymn sheet” as the leadership.
“But on the whole it was fury, despair, miserable and I just felt that the top table [was in] total denial,” she said.
“And corporate amnesia, that’s what it felt like.”
She said of Mr Corbyn there was “fury that he didn’t go and visit the right constituencies”, and “fury at the organisation”.
'IT WASN'T A DIRECT APOLOGY'
Jess Phillips, seen as a potential future leader, read out a text message from one of the former Labour MPs who lost their seat, Melanie Onn in Great Grimsby.
She said: “It was just about how she’d been let down by the leadership and the front bench, and that nobody had bothered with Grimsby.
“That they didn’t go and help her, and nobody called her.”
Ms Phillips added: “There’s lots and lots of complaints about how nobody’s called any of the people who’ve lost.”
A Labour source later said Mr Corbyn would be speaking to the MPs who lost their seats, saying it was “all in process”.
But there was anger about the leader’s response in the room, with Hove MP Peter Kyle saying he failed to say sorry to them as individuals.
“It wasn’t a direct apology to the group, it was a generalised apology to the group for the position he found himself in,” he added.
Attacking the line from the party that they lost 59 seats because of Brexit, Mr Kyle hit back: “Brexit was not a natural disaster that swept Labour up in its wake, it was a political crisis that Labour mishandled.”
Another MP said lots of colleagues had stood up to tell him the same thing, that while Brexit was an issue the “much bigger problem is Corbyn”, saying that electing a continuity candidate in the upcoming leadership contest “would be worst thing we could do”.
Mr Streeting agreed, saying of the thousands of activists who campaigned in the election: “We just have to hope that all of those members not just heard the message on the doorstep but listened, and when we elect a new leadership there’s a genuinely new direction.”
He added: “If we try to go for Corbynism without Corbyn we are just setting ourselves up for generations out of power.”
But the current leader did have his defenders, with new Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe suggesting Mr Corbyn was not to blame for defeat.
And she attempted to suggest that as a party “we have a lot to celebrate”, but found herself heckled by others in the room.