Ex-Labour MPs and party veterans round on Jeremy Corbyn after disastrous election

Patrick Grafton-Green
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington on Saturday morning: PA

Former Labour MPs and party veterans have rounded on Jeremy Corbyn after the party’s worst election result since the 1930s.

This morning Ex-MPs Anna Turley and Helen Goodman, and last night former cabinet minister Jack Straw, were the latest to attack the party’s leader after the disastrous poll.

Despite criticism, Mr Corbyn has claimed he did "everything he could" to get Labour into power but said the election was "taken over by Brexit".

He is expected to stand down early next year when a successor has been chosen by the party.

Ms Turley, who lost her seat in Redcar on Thursday, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "For me, when you're getting four doors in a row of lifelong Labour voters saying 'I'm sorry Anna, I'm a lifelong Labour voter, I like what you've done, but I just can't vote for that man to be prime minister', I'm afraid that's a fundamental barrier that we just couldn't get across."

Ms Turley said on Saturday that Mr Corbyn was "absolutely" more of a reason than Brexit for her constituents voting for another party, adding: "In my constituency, even though it was a 67 per cent Leave constituency, it was four to one the leadership over Brexit.

"I mean obviously the issues run deeper than that, the Labour Party is bigger than just one person, but the reality is there were issues around our perception around competence."

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington on Saturday morning (PA)

She added: "People didn't trust him to put our country first, they felt that there was sort of an anti-Western world view, and his history and his baggage around security and terrorism, whether that was exaggerated or not, the reality was that people didn't believe that he could be trusted with the security and that he had a world view that would put Britain first, or that he could represent us on a global stage with Trump, with Putin in the G7, and that he was someone who could lead this country - and that was a huge issue for us."

Helen Goodman, who was defeated in Bishop Auckland, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme "the biggest factor was obviously the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader", adding: "The fact of the matter is that Jeremy Corbyn failed as a communicator, whatever his good personal qualities, and he undoubtedly has good personal qualities, he failed as a communicator."

Ex-shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman, another former Labour MP who lost her seat in Darlington, also attacked the party leadership.

She said: "You can't run a political party that wants to be a party of government but only really appeals to about a third of the electorate and those people that live in cities who are fairly well-off people.

"The real question we have to ask ourselves now is do we want the Tories, do we want to give them another five years or another 15 years, because if we get this wrong now as a party, this could very well be the end of the Labour movement."

However, Labour MP for York Central Rachel Maskell, who retained her seat, said today she didn't "think apportioning blame to a complex situation in a simplistic way is really the way to approach this".

She said: "We've got to understand what is really happening across our political system."

Elsewhere, on Newsnight on Friday night, Jack Straw, who served as home secretary under Tony Blair, said: “I blame the leadership of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn in particular."

Addressing accusations of bias in the media, he added: “The press has always been biased against Labour… Tony Blair was demonised by the media, he was able to break through that, as was in his time Harold Wilson, and the reason for that was that first those leaders did not carry the baggage Jeremy Corbyn had and what’s more, you can’t transform anything unless you have power.”

It came after another former home secretary, Alan Johnson, called Mr Corbyn “a disaster on the doorstep,” adding: “Everyone knew that he couldn't lead the working class out of paper bag.”

Mr Corbyn's sons issued a statement late on Friday slamming "despicable attacks" levelled against Mr Corbyn and calling him "honest, humble and good natured".