Corbyn urged to act after aide allegedly says steel crisis is good for Labour

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has been asked by MPs to discipline a political aide who reportedly claimed that the steel crisis had played well for the Labour party.

In a letter leaked to the Guardian, six Labour MPs who represent communities affected by the crisis told Corbyn that they were “absolutely horrified” by the suggestion, which was insulting and offensive to people who faced losing their jobs.

Andrew Fisher was said to have made the comments to Momentum, a group fiercely loyal to Corbyn.

The MPs warned that the issue was too important be reduced to “immature political bragging” and pointed out that Fisher, who works in the Labour leader’s office, is funded by Short money, which is paid to the party to help with its costs. “It is completely inappropriate for him to be addressing political meetings of this kind,” they wrote in the letter sent to Corbyn on Wednesday night.

“This statement is offensive and insulting, not only to the thousands of Tata steelworkers whose futures remain in the balance, but also to more than 3,000 people who lost their jobs on Teesside when the Redcar steelworks was shut last year. Our communities have been devastated and many lives ruined.”

The MPs – Tom Blenkinsop, Caroline Flint, Stephen Kinnock, Christina Rees, Angela Smith and Anna Turley – said they had been working day and night to try to get the government to save UK steelmaking and support their constituents.

“There has been nothing good for anyone about the devastation caused by the failure of the government to deal with the steel crisis over the last year. There are no winners,” they said, adding that politicians and unions were fighting “tooth and nail for the industry”.

They said they were confident that Corbyn and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, understood the scale of the steel crisis, having met workers in affected communities, and concluded: “We hope you will take the appropriate action with the individual concerned.”

A spokesman for Corbyn made it clear that he would stand by his aide, strongly defending Fisher’s position and suggesting that his words had been taken out of context. “What Andrew Fisher was trying to get across was that the Conservative government has failed the steel industry and communities, while Labour has stood up for them – and that has been clearly recognised by the public,” the spokesman said.

Fisher was previously suspended then readmitted to the party after sending tweets urging his followers to support a candidate for the anarchist Class War party instead of the Labour candidate in Croydon South.

The letter was sent to Corbyn with copies for Iain McNicol, the general secretary of the Labour party, the deputy leader, Tom Watson, and the chief whip, Rosie Winterton.

A Labour source questioned the motives of the MPs behind the letter. “The letter is a result of some of those involved still not having accepted the result of the leadership election of the Labour party,” the source said.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Anushka Asthana Political editor, for theguardian.com on Thursday 21st April 2016 10.58 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010