Jeremy Corbyn wants greater input from Labour members
Re-elected leader, who won contest with 62% of vote, says there is ‘thirst for change’
The Leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn listens to a speech on the first day of the Labour Party conference, in Liverpool, Britain September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Mr Corbyn said he would reach out to Labour MPs, 80 per cent of whom wanted to get rid of him – but he left no doubt that his victory should herald a shift in power towards the membership.
“What I want is a more open party and we need to look at democracy and involvement of members of all aspects of decision making. There’s a lot of thirst for change out there. I want more power for members, more power for supporters, so that we have policies that have support throughout the whole party,” he told the BBC.
Mr Corbyn said that Labour members and MPs should now come together to campaign on the policies which united them, such as the Conservative government’s plans to reintroduce academic selection for secondary schools.
Some former shadow cabinet members signalled that they could return to the front bench, although former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper suggested that Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell should first offer an olive branch by allowing MPs to elect part of the shadow cabinet.
“In order to pull the whole party together, we have to show different ways of working, for example shadow cabinet elections. He and John need to do deeds not words, they need to take the lead to draw the whole party together, making sure we don’t have people driven out of the party,” she said.
Rebel MPs at the conference in Liverpool acknowledged that Mr Corbyn’s emphatic victory almost certainly ruled out another challenge before the next general election. Some of his adversaries, however, made clear that they would not temper their criticism of the leadership and the direction in which he was leading the party.
Demonise votersChuka Umunna
“Treating them like the devil incarnate is not going to be the way you’re going to get them to vote for the Labour party and have a Labour government in future,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone in the Labour movement should underestimate the importance of us illustrating that we are as patriotic as anyone else. And that’s why things like your national anthem, support for the armed services and all these things should never, ever allow those to be the exclusive preserve of the Conservatives.”
Former shadow foreign secretary Hillary Benn, whose sacking triggered the move against Mr Corbyn, said the atmosphere within the party was “pretty unpleasant” but he urged disgruntled moderates against leaving the party.
“Don’t be disheartened because in the end the values that bind us together will win,” he said. “So for all of the difficulties and the problems that people may feel today, I say to you today be of good heart, be of good cheer, stick together and we will win.”