UK Politics

Corbyn plotters told to 'stop sniping' by union boss

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr McCluskey urged unhappy Labour MPs to get behind Jeremy Corbyn

Unite leader Len McCluskey has accused a "cabal" of Labour MPs of plotting against their leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The union boss said some Labour MPs did not accept Mr Corbyn's mandate although their alternative vision for the country was "stale and uninspiring".

In a speech in Oxford, he urged malcontents to "stop the sniping" and to "take the fight" to the Tories.

Mr Corbyn has faced criticism of his leadership and stance on issues such as defence and counter-terrorism.

His handling of a shadow cabinet reshuffle last month, in which one prominent critic was sacked and opponents of the leader's position on Trident were sidelined, was widely criticised.

Earlier on Tuesday, a senior figure in the shadow cabinet said it might be impossible for the party to reach an agreed position on whether to renew the UK's nuclear weapons system.

'Radical challenge'

But Mr McCluskey said it was time for those who have questioned the direction in which Mr Corbyn is taking the party to pipe down, saying the Labour leader deserved their loyalty.

"Their analysis of Labour's defeat in 2015 was unconvincing, their proposals stale, minimalist and uninspiring - and for the most part, they have still not shaped up after Corbyn's victory," he said. "Until they can do that, they are a plot without a programme; a cabal without a critique."

The "continual war of attrition" between different camps in the party was "achieving nothing beyond taking the pressure off the government", he said.

"So my clear message to the plotters is - stop the sniping, stop the scheming, get behind Jeremy Corbyn and start taking the fight to the Tories."

In his opposition to austerity and to foreign military interventions, Mr Corbyn was in tune with public opinion, Mr McCluskey said.

The Labour leader, he said, offered a "radical challenge to the status quo and business-as-usual politics", likening the insurgency which propelled him to victory in September's leadership contest to US Democratic politician Bernie Sanders' current bid for the White House.

"What Jeremy Corbyn offers - like Bernie Sanders in the US - is a calling out of corporate corruption, a rejection of the austerity that has made the UK the most unequal economy in the G8 and the promise that politics and politicians can and will put things right for ordinary working people."

And he criticised those who, he claimed, were suggesting May's elections in Scotland, Wales, and across England were a referendum on the Labour leadership.

"I am not a supporter of... changes designed to intimidate or undermine Labour MPs. But I also believe that we need to issue a clear warning to those who are advocating the parliamentary Labour Party being used as a lever to force Jeremy Corbyn out."

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