Jeremy Corbyn has faced a barrage of criticism and accusations of incompetence from Labour MPs during a “post-mortem” of the party’s general election drubbing.
During a two-hour meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party last night in the Commons, the Labour leader was told that his successor must be someone who can win over the public rather than just party members.
But Corbyn told MPs that while he was “very sorry for the result, for which I take responsibility”, the devestating defeat was “ultimately about Brexit”.
What was the criticism of Corbyn?
The “brutal inquest” into the party’s worst defeat since 1935 saw Corbyn being “subjected to a 20-minute public tirade by a defeated Labour candidate who accused him of betraying working-class voters”, says The Times.
Former shadow cabinet minister Rachel Reeves told the embattled leader that Labour’s manifesto had made the party look “economically illiterate”, and then launched a personal attack on him, reports The Telegraph.
“We’ve all heard lots of reasons for the election defeat, but the real reason was you. The biggest drag on our vote was you,” Reeves told Corbyn.
Jess Phillips, a likely leadership contender, also weighed in, quoting a text from Melanie Onn, the losing Great Grimsby candidate, who said that she had not had any messages of commiseration or apology from Corbyn or his team since the election result.
David Lammy criticised the “cult” of Corbyn, saying: “I have faith, I go to church on a Sunday, but can I make a plea that we keep the faith there and end this faith-based cult once and for all.”
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And Eltham MP Clive Efford - who leads the Tribune group of mainly “soft-left” Labour MPs - said he held the Labour leader responsible for council estate votes going to the Tories.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton, a former justice secretary, later told BBC Two’s Newsnight that “the feeling is like a volcano of molten anger that is absolutely pouring out. It’s been there in the building the whole day.”
Veteran MP Margaret Hodge has also described the “fury” at the election post-mortem meeting, and accused the party of “corporate amnesia” for failing to learn the lessons of previous defeats, The Independent reports.
Meanwhile, Mary Creagh - who lost her Wakefield seat after 14 years in the Commons - said her anger had spilled over after she spotted Corbyn taking selfies with a group of young people in a public area of Parliament.
“I told him he shouldn’t be having his photo taken with young people because he had betrayed their future,” she said. “I asked him to apologise for what he’d done.”
The MPs’ feeling were echoed by former prime minister Tony Blair, who said in a speech this morning in London that “Labour needs not just a different driver, but a different bus”.
“Any attempt to whitewash this defeat, pretend it is something other than it is, or the consequence of something other than the obvious, will cause irreparable damage to our relationship with the electorate,” said Blair, who has published a damning report on the party’s election failure.
“The first task is to discard the sectarian ultra-left politics that has taken the party over and condemned it to the wilderness of opposition.”
Did anyone back Corbyn?
Two MPs spoke in defence of their leader at the election post-mortem. Claudia Webbe, the new MP for Leicester East, provoked laughter by insisting that Labour had a “lot to celebrate”, says The Guardian.
Kate Osborne, the new MP for Jarrow, also defended Corbyn, according to The Times.
But the overall sentiment was clear as the MPs made their way into the Commons meeting room while journalists hovered outside. Addressing the reporters, Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said: “We’re irrelevant. Why do you give a fuck?”