Rebecca Long Bailey rates Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership ‘10 out of 10’ despite election defeats
Rebecca Long-Bailey has given Jeremy Corbyn "10 out of 10" for his leadership of the Labour Party.
The Shadow Business Secretary said he deserved full marks because he is one of the “most honest kind principled politicians” she has ever met.
Her surprising assessment, in an interview with ITV, came despite the fact that Labour lost both general elections it contested under his leadership.
The second defeat, on 12 December last year, saw the party slump to its worst performance since 1935.
But Ms Long Bailey, who has confirmed she is bidding to succeed Mr Corbyn as leader, accused the party of failing to rebut attacks on him by the media.
She said: "I'd give him 10 out of 10, because I respect him and I supported him all the way through.
"What we can’t ignore was that Jeremy was savaged from day one by the press.
"We have a role as a party to develop the image of our leader and to put them forward in the most positive way, but we also have a duty to rebut criticism and attacks.
"As a party we needed to have a rebuttal unit, a clear structure in place to rebut the attacks against him."
Her comments came as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell threw his weight behind Ms Long-Bailey's leadership campaign.
Announcing her candidacy in Tribune magazine, Ms Long-Bailey said she was the candidate best placed to continue Mr Corbyn's work and stick with "our socialist agenda".
But the Salford and Eccles MP slapped down suggestions that there was no difference between her and Mr Corbyn, telling ITV: “I’m not anybody’s continuity candidate.”
She added: “We are very different people. The reasons I supported him were because I liked his approach to policy making.
“We are different in the way we speak, different in tone.”
Ms Long Bailey has joined Clive Lewis, Emily Thornberry, Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer in the race to succeed Mr Corbyn.
The next leader will be announced on 4 April.