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Labour grandee urges MPs to 'refuse to accept' Rebecca Long-Bailey if she wins leadership

3 min read

Former Labour deputy leader Lord Hattersley has called on the party's MPs to defy Rebecca Long-Bailey if she succeeds Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

The Labour grandee, who served in James Callaghan's government and has been fiercely critical of Jeremy Corbyn, said Ms Long-Bailey's victory would act as a "public statement that Corbyn has gone but Corbynism lives on".

And he urged MPs to pursue an "outright refusal to accept" her leadership.

Ms Long-Bailey is seen as the left-wing frontrunner in the race to succeed Mr Corbyn, which will formally kick off in the new year.

The Sunday Times reports that Jon Lansman, the chairman of the pro-Corbyn Momentum campaign group, is already informally advising Ms Long-Bailey and is likely to join her campaign.

But, in a piece for The Observer, Lord Hattersley warns that Labour is "already preparing for its next defeat" if the party is serious about choosing Ms Long-Bailey.

He writes: "Despite the obvious truth that Jeremy Corbyn must take the blame for the worst result in almost 100 years, Rebecca Long Bailey, his anointed successor, is the favourite to succeed him as party leader. Her election, which is close to being certain, would be the public statement that Corbyn has gone but Corbynism lives on."

Arguing that Labour's electoral survival depends on "genuine democratic socialists in the parliamentary party seizing control of the political agenda", Lord Hattersley goes on to urge MPs to show that "they mean business" by defying Ms Long-Bailey.

"The cause would be best served by an outright refusal to accept the imposition of a leader who does not command their confidence," he says.

"A formal protest with a recorded vote would be almost as effective. Emboldened, they must then insist that the shadow cabinet is, once again, elected – giving its members an independent authority that they would not possess as the leader’s nominees."

Such a move would, the Labour veteran argues, allow the PLP to "challenge the strategy and tactics of both the leader and the advisers" who brought the party to its worst general result since 1935. 

Urging the party's "genuine democratic socialist MPs" to organise to counter Momentum, Lord Hattersley says: "It may be that the parliamentary party is not in a mood to heed the calls to arms. The self-styled 'moderates' have always suffered from an excess of caution. But if there is to be a fight, have no doubt that the real democratic socialists will occupy the high ground."

And he adds: "A genuine democratic socialist party can win elections. The time has come to rise up against all who stand in our way."

The fiery intervention from Lord Hattersley came as The Sunday Times revealed the party's list of target seats for the general election.

The leaked document shows that of 86 target seats, 60 were offensive - meaning Labour was attempting to snatch them from rival parties - with just 26 defensive target seats earmarked. 

Labour ended election night shedding 60 seats and making just a single gain in London's Putney.

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