Jeremy Corbyn is to set out his 10 priorities should he win the Labour leadership race, with the party regaining support in Scotland at the top of his list, as Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper scramble to convince MPs that they are the candidate to prevent his victory.
On Friday, the day the first ballot papers are sent out, Corbyn will hold a rally in Glasgow to outline his plan, entitled Standing to Deliver, saying it is a commitment to “a new kind of politics: a fairer, kinder Britain based on innovation, decent jobs and decent public services”.
It will include opposing austerity, a lower welfare bill without cuts, action on climate change, public ownership of the railways and energy sector, rent controls, no more illegal wars, and an end to privatisation of the NHS.
Corbyn faced the first detailed critique of his policies from a rival candidate when Cooper said on Thursday that it was a false promise that he could re-open coal mines, and it was not credible to fund an infrastructure investment programme through quantitative easing.
“Quantitive easing to pay for infrastructure now the economy is growing is really bad economics,” she said in Manchester. “Quantitive easing was a special measure when the economy collapsed, liquidity dried up, interest rates fell as low as they could go. But printing money year after year to pay for things you can’t afford doesn’t work – and no good Keynesian would ever call for it.”
The fourth candidate, Liz Kendall, said in the Birmingham Mail that a perception Corbyn was sympathetic to the IRA would make it harder to maintain peace in Northern Ireland. She also asked her supporters not to choose Corbyn for their second or third preference and to put down Burnham or Cooper in either order instead.
Their interventions came on top of warnings in recent days – including from the former prime minister Tony Blair, former Downing Street spin doctor Alastair Campbell, and ex-home secretaries Jack Straw and Alan Johnson – that a Corbyn victory could split the party.
Corbyn’s camp were forced to defend their candidate on Thursday against an editorial in the Jewish Chronicle which claimed he had associated with Holocaust deniers and “expressed deep foreboding at the prospect of Mr Corbyn’s election as Labour leader”.
A spokesman for the Jeremy for Labour campaign issued a statement which said he strongly opposed any antisemitism and that he was “proud to represent a multicultural constituency of people from all over the world”.
After a week of attacks on his policy and abilities, Corbyn told the Guardian that life was too short to react to abuse and argued it devalued the political proccess.
“We’re the one putting forward ideas, so I don’t do personal, I don’t do reaction, I don’t do abuse … I think we should try and enhance the democratic life of this country, not reduce it to that level,” he said. “Can we please – and I say this to everyone – just talk about the issues that people are facing: the poverty levels, the inequality levels, the health problems, the way in which austerity is impacting on the lives of the most vulnerable in society? That is what’s most important.”
In contrast to other senior Labour figures, Burnham took a more conciliatory tone towards Corbyn, saying those attacking him were “misreading the mood” of the party and suggesting he could be willing to work in the team of whoever ends up as leader.
With more than 600,000 people potentially able to take part in the election, the next few days will be crucial as voting gets under way.
Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, will send a letter over the weekend to his union’s affliated supporters, numbering up to 100,000, making clear that “the policies promoted by Jeremy are the closest to Unite’s values and policy”.
Behind the scenes in the parliamentary party, a last-minute push is under way by the Cooper and Burnham camps to position themselves as the only candidate who can beat Corbyn.
Labour sources said some supporters of the trailing candidate, Kendall, had suggested both she and Cooper drop out to allow anti-Corbyn support to coalesce around Burnham, but this idea has been firmly rejected by both of them.
After a YouGov poll suggested a decisive lead for Corbyn, with more than 53% support, people in both the Cooper and Burnham camps have been texting and calling MPs and leading party figures – many of whom are away on holiday – urging them to declare second preferences or switch allegiances.
A number of Kendall supporters are now making clear whether they would back Cooper or Burnham. John Woodcock, an ally of Kendall and shadow minister, has written to party members saying he is backing Burnham as his second preference as he thinks the shadow health secretary has the best chance of beating Corbyn.
Three other Kendallites – shadow equalities miniter Gloria de Piero, Cardiff South MP Stephen Doughty and Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk – are also making clear Burnham is their second choice. Chi Onwurah, who nominated Corbyn, even came out in favour of Burnham as her first preference.
Some of Kendall’s senior team believe the numbers are pointing to Burnham being the only candidate with the support to take on Corbyn.
However, there is no clear consensus, with others coming out in favour of Cooper, swayed in some cases by her speech taking on Corbyn.
The Ilford MP, Wes Streeting, said he would back Cooper second, while a source close to the shadow cabinet member, Ivan Lewis, who is supporting Kendall, said he would urge party members to use their preferences to vote for Cooper second and Burnham third.
Many MPs within the party feel it is too little too late for such mobilisation, and have turned their minds to what a Corbyn victory could mean and what the impact could be on the London mayoral election, council elections and devolved administration elections next May.
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