Corbyn hits back after Obama suggests Labour is 'disintegrating'

Barack Obama Speech

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn has hit back after Barack Obama appeared to suggest that the Labour party has moved away from “fact and reality” and is disintegrating.

The spokesman said the Labour leader “stands for what most people want” and suggested that the outgoing president’s Democratic party needed to “challenge power if they are going to speak for working people”.

Obama had earlier said he was not worried when asked if the US Democrats could undergo “Corbynisation” and “disintegrate” like Labour in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s election defeat by Donald Trump.

The departing US president was giving an in-depth interview, in which he also said he would have won the 8 November contest if he ran for a third term, to David Axelrod, formerly an adviser to Corbyn’s predecessor as Labour leader, Ed Miliband.

The 55-year-old compared the way the Labour party and the US Republicans had chosen to swing away from the middle ground and claimed even left-wing senator Bernie Sanders was a centrist compared to Corbyn.

Asked about a potential “Corbynisation” of his party, he said: “I don’t worry about that partly because I think that the Democratic party has stayed pretty grounded in fact and reality.”

He added: “[The Republican party] started filling up with all kinds of conspiracy-theorising that became kind of common wisdom or conventional wisdom within the Republican party base. That hasn’t happened in the Democratic party. I think people like the passion that Bernie brought, but Bernie Sanders is a pretty centrist politician relative to ... Corbyn or relative to some of the Republicans.”

In response Corbyn’s spokesman said: “Both Labour and US Democrats will have to challenge power if they are going to speak for working people and change a broken system that isn’t delivering for the majority.

“What Jeremy Corbyn stands for is what most people want: to take on the tax cheats, create a fairer economy, fund a fully public NHS, build more homes, and stop backing illegal wars.

“For the establishment, those ideas are dangerous. For most people in Britain, they’re common sense and grounded in reality.”

The Labour leader has been critical of the Democrat’s policies. Corbyn in February said he opposed “dangerous elements” in the negotiations for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The secretive bilateral trade deal between the EU and US has been maligned for apparently putting corporate interests above national sovereignty.

Corbyn, who met with Obama in London for 90 minutes in April, also opposes British military intervention in Syria. The meeting, described as “excellent” by Corbyn, was announced just as Obama said the US and Britain were ready to take action to stop Islamic State securing a stronghold in Libya.

A Labour spokesman said after the meeting: “They discussed the power of global corporations, the impact of globalisation on working people, and the need to take action to reduce inequality across the world.

“They agreed on the case for Britain to remain a member of the European Union, and that there would be further contact between their teams to discuss measures to deal with international tax avoidance and evasion.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason and Peter J Walker, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 27th December 2016 01.28 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010