A call for Jeremy Corbyn to go as Labour leader has been publicly backed by two other MPs, while his allies have responded by telling rebels to accept the decision that party members made in the party’s leadership election.
John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness, set himself on a collision course with those at the top of the party by writing that voters were being “appallingly” served by the current leadership, adding “we simply cannot go on like this”.
A Labour spokesman responded: “It’s time for John Woodcock to accept the democratic decision of the Labour party to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader – and join Jeremy and the rest of the party in turning their fire on this incompetent and divisive Tory government.”
Tensions have been high within the party ever since a list of names, which appeared to rank MPs by their loyalty to the current leadership, was left in a parliamentary bar and then covered by the media.
Labour issued a “categorical” denial that anyone in Corbyn’s office had drawn up the list, and questioned the motives of whomever leaked it. Nevertheless its very existence infuriated politicians who had been separated into five groups, with one described as “hostile”.
David Cameron used the list to mock Corbyn at the last prime minister’s questions before Easter, diverting attention from a week in which civil war had erupted on his side following the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith amid a row about disability benefits.
Woodcock said that whoever was behind the list was “foolish” to label MPs with “offensive names”. He used an article in the Mirror to accuse the leadership of failing to capitalise on a bad week for the Tories.
“It is understandable that people say we should show loyalty to Labour’s leader,” wrote Woodcock. “Jeremy is a nice man who is doing his best. But it is time to remember that our loyalty actually lies to the people who desperately need a Labour government and an effective Labour party to stand up for them.”
But he said the leadership had failed to stand up for disabled people badly hit by George Osborne’s budget before Duncan Smith’s resignation led to a U-turn over cuts.
“Those people are being appallingly served by a leadership team who cannot even get its act together properly to stand up for disabled people when they are screwed over by the Tories,” Woodcock added.
“For the sake of people being bled dry by a government that thinks it has a divine right to rule, we simply cannot go on like this,” added Woodcock.
His attack quickly received support from neighbouring Cumbrian MP, Jamie Reed, who took to Twitter to claim that Woodcock’s article “nails it”. When challenged by Corbyn supporters who suggested MPs should be sacked for publicly berating their boss, Reed replied: “If your boss is killing your firm, do you stay quiet?”
And Angela Smith, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge who was previously a party whip, added her voice to the attacks, arguing that Corbyn had failed to make any significant statement on the EU and had failed to hit out at the Tories.
“If Corbyn is not prepared to buckle down and show proper leadership he should just go, and give us a chance to get a leader who can properly take on the Tories,” she said.
“And this week he has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by letting Cameron and Osborne off the hook as far as their disastrous budget is concerned.”
This article was written by Anushka Asthana Political editor, for theguardian.com on Friday 25th March 2016 20.47 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010