Jeremy Corbyn to ‘reach out’ to Labour MPs… as allies talk deselection
Team Corbyn are pushing ahead with the ‘good cop, bad cop’ approach to party management.
Jeremy Corbyn has promised to extend an olive branch to hostile Labour MPs – as two of his allies have suggested that the same people could be deselected.
The Labour leader told the Today programme that he would "reach out to" Labour MPs who have opposed his leadership "as I've reached out to them in the past".
The interview was pre-recorded and Corbyn's comments were broadcast on Monday morning. They followed a conciliatory interview in the Guardian on Saturday in which he conceded that it may take time for him to win over some parliamentary colleagues. “I’ll rely on the best natures that can come out,” he said.
But at the same time, Len McCluskey has hinted at the deselection of Corbyn’s opponents.
The Unite general secretary, one of the most vocal supporters of Corbyn, was asked whether hostile elements of the Parliamentary Labour Party would be “asking for it”.
“I think they would,” he told the BBC’s John Pienaar. “Some of the MPs have behaved despicably and disgracefully and they have shown no respect whatsoever to the leader and they should be held to account.”
Shadow defence secretary Clive Lewis, another close ally of Corbyn, was similarly open to the prospect of certain MPs being given their marching orders if Labour members demanded it.
He said the question of deselection was a “democratic choice for our members” and that MPs who had plotted against Corbyn had “brought it on themselves, in a way”.
However, he said that members should think carefully before seeking to oust sitting MPs. “There’s no point going back to the bloodletting of the 1970s and the 1980s when you are basically a party in meltdown,” he said.
The comments come a month after supporters of Corbyn were advised on how to deselect their local MP in a new pamphlet said to be backed by senior figures on the left of the party.
Corbyn told the Today programme this morning: “Of course I’m going to reach out to them as I’ve reached out to them in the past. Yes I understand that.
"I have made it my business to talk to quite a lot of Labour MPs and will continue to do so and I hope they will understand that we've been elected as Labour MPs...
He added: “It doesn't mean everybody agrees on everything all the time - that I understand - but the general direction of opposition to austerity, opposing the Tories on grammar schools, those are actually the kind of things that unite the party.”