Seven ousted Labour MPs have today blasted “cronyism” at the top of the party in a searing attack on the party’s general election “catastrophe”.
The group called for a “fundamental change” in leadership and “unflinching” review of what went wrong after Labour won 203 seats, the party’s worst performance since 1935.
In a letter to the Observer, they argued poorer voters turned Tory after they “simply didn’t believe” Labour’s vast spending plans, or didn’t see the relevance to their lives.
The ex-MPs also claim voters turned against Mr Corbyn’s “reflexive anti-western worldview”, adding: “Cronyism at the top of our party and repeated unwillingness to stand up to the stain of antisemitism were constantly relayed back to us on the doorstep, shaming the traditional values of our once great anti-racist party.”
It comes as rumours swirl that left-wing party chair and Corbyn loyalist Ian Lavery could throw his hat into the leadership race – which kicks off on January 7.
Jeremy Corbyn allies have for weeks been tipping Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey as the successor to continue his left-wing, nationalisation-focused legacy.
But a source close to Mr Lavery refuse to rule out that he could stand too.
The Sunday Times reported that concerns were raised about Ms Long-Bailey’s heft and profile in a meeting of left-wingers before Christmas.
Those signing today’s letter include Mary Creagh, who had chaired the Commons Environment committee, Phil Wilson who sat in Tony Blair’s old seat, and Anna Turley whose Redcar seat was taken by a 26-year-old Tory.
Also signing the letter were four Labour candidates who failed to become MPs.
They wrote: “We lost seats in every region and nation with a swing against us in every social class – with the biggest swing against us from the poorest people.
“The scale of this defeat means that we have to look unflinchingly at what went wrong, way beyond a simple review, welcome as that might be.
“We need to be honest about why our outgoing leadership’s reflexive anti-western worldview was so unpopular and address the reasons.”
Mary Creagh, former MP for Wakefield
Emma Reynolds, former MP for Wolverhampton North East
Anna Turley, former MP for Redcar
Dr Paul Williams, former MP for Stockton South
Gerard Killen, former MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Martin Whitfield, former MP for East Lothian
Phil Wilson, former MP for Sedgefield
They added: “Labour needs to be in government – and for that, fundamental change at the top of our party is required. Only this will help us recover from the catastrophic loss of 12 December.”
Writing in the Sunday Times today, Jewish Leadership Council chairman Jonathan Goldstein welcomed the fact that Labour “paid a price for its pact with racism”.
He added: “But Labour’s election defeat, its origins and its consequences are not the fault of British Jews, as I am sure that any real evaluation will show.”
Mr Goldstein said “it is the Labour Party that left us” and failed to engage meaningfully with the Jewish Labour Movement over cases of anti-Semitism, including in the ruling NEC.
He called for a new leader to “tear up” the 2016 Chakrabarti report, which concluded Labour was not “overrun” by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism; put an independent disciplinary process in place; and ban groups or unions still “denying” anti-Semitism.
And he said the new leader must “have the will to take on Unite, which has been part of the problem and is unlikely to be part of the solution under Len McCluskey.”
He added: “It is hard listening to those who could have done more, without feeling a little jaundiced about whether they have the authenticity and mettle to confront it now.”
Meanwhile, Mr Lavery hit back after the Sunday Times published a recording of him joking about whether to “grab” a Remainer who confronted him at a meeting.
According to the recording, the Leave-backer could be heard saying: “You know the situation with harassment and bullying in the party, so I was unlikely to grab her. That was a joke by the way.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Lavery said: “Ian Lavery has a proud track record of fighting against all forms of harassment.
“He has always taken a strong stance on bullying and harassment and rooting these out of the party and out of our society.
“To suggest otherwise is disingenuous, and to take comments out of context to misrepresent Ian’s views and track record are simply nonsense”.