say Labour MPs who fell victim to austerity-lite policies
SENIOR Labour figures who lost their seats at the general election are supporting Jeremy Corbyn as the only candidate who can win back disillusioned working-class voters.
Former MPs Ian Davidson, Chris Williamson and Michael Connarty were among 25 defeated Labour candidates who said yesterday that they could have won in 2015 with Mr Corbyn as leader.
They spoke out as a huge poll of party supporters showed the left candidate is seven times more popular than his rivals.
In an open letter, the candidates counter claims by Tony Blair and his heir Liz Kendall that Labour must turn right in response to the May 7 defeat.
They argue that that, far from being too left wing, Labour lost votes and let in the Tories because the party “failed to challenge the fundamental economic consensus on austerity.”
The letter says: “Now our communities face the prospect of five years of the Tories dismantling the welfare state and condemning hundreds of thousands of children into poverty.”
To win back the five million votes lost between 1997 and 2010, they believe Labour must break out of the Westminster bubble and return to its historic role as a social movement.
And the letter’s authors conclude: “We believe that Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate offering this vision.
“The only candidate with the principles, and policies, who can win back the millions of voters Labour lost between 1997 and 2010 and the only candidate which offers hope for the millions of people suffering at the hands of this pernicious Tory government.
“This is why we are backing Jeremy Corbyn to be the next leader of the Labour Party.”
Their call was echoed yesterday by shadow cabinet minister Jon Trickett, who, in an article for the New Statesman, called for Labour’s next leader to end a “command and control relationship” with the party’s grassroots.
Mr Corbyn’s status as the Labour leadership frontrunner was cemented yesterday by a poll for the LabourList website.
A survey of 5,438 people found that the leftwinger was the first preference of a stunning 72 per cent of respondents.
Ms Kendall came second in the poll — but was over 60 points behind Mr Corbyn on 9.5 per cent.
Yvette Cooper was close behind her, with 9.2 per cent, while Andy Burnham performed the worst, with 6.6 per cent.
The low level of support for Mr Burnham comes as a surprise, given that a previous LabourList poll found he was the most popular minister in the shadow cabinet and he remains the bookies’ favourite.
Although the latest findings come from an unweighted email survey, they have appeared just days after a YouGov poll for the Times put Mr Corbyn 17 points ahead of his nearest rival.
Responding to the latest survey, a spokesman for Mr Corbyn’s campaign said: “It’s great that so many people have voted for Jeremy in this poll, and momentum is clearly with his campaign, but we now have to convert the enthusiasm into more activity and votes.
“We’d urge everyone who’s voted for Jeremy in this poll to sign up as a volunteer on his website and redouble their efforts.”
After an outburst by Mr Blair helped them smash a £45,000 fundraising target on Thursday, Mr Corbyn’s team have set an ambitious new £100,000 goal.
With 50 days of the campaign to go, they are aiming to raise £1,000 a day. And they were on track last night, after banking over £5,000 in a single day.