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Labour divided as it starts soul searching process

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Yvette Cooper is set to emerge as one of the strongest leadership contenders

A group of Labour MPs who lost their seats in the general election have predictably tried to blame Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership for their loss.

In a letter to the Observer yesterday, the group blames “cronyism” and “anti-Semitism” for Labour’s worst electoral performance in 85 years. Some have also blamed Brexit.

Labour won only 203 seats, a drop of 59 seats, qualifying as the party’s worst national election performance since 1935.

But in a parallel move, a review launched by “Labour Together”, a network comprised of leading activists and senior Labour party figures, is said to be opposed to identifying a single issue, notably Corbyn’s leadership, for the historic defeat.

But leading signatories (of the Observer letter), including former MPs Mary Creagh and Anna Turley, argue that the magnitude of Labour’s defeat necessities soul-searching that goes “way beyond a simple review”.

Meanwhile, the Labour party leadership contest has picked up steam, with Yvette Cooper indicating she is considering joining the race.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Cooper, who has been the MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford since 2010, argues that whilst Labour “did badly” in the general election, it still has the capacity to “pull the UK together again”.  

Hitherto, only two candidates have formally declared their intention to contest the Labour leadership once Corbyn steps down as leader early next year.

The declared candidates are shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, and shadow Treasury minister, Clive Lewis.

However, other leading Labour figures, notably shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, and shadow secretary for business, energy and industrial strategy, Rebecca Long-Bailey, are widely expected to join the race.  


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