Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell dig in after council elections
Shadow chancellor emulates John Major with ‘put up or shut up’ call.
Jeremy Corbyn has sent out a defiant message to his critics after Labour appeared to hold its ground in the English council elections.
Labour suffered a bruising night in Scotland where it fell behind the Conservatives. The party also faced a setback in Wales, where Ukip made the biggest gains.
But in England, Labour retained control of key councils, including Southampton and Crawley, and increased its representation in Exeter.
"All across England last night we were getting predictions that Labour was going to lose councils. We didn’t, we hung on and we grew support in a lot of places," Corbyn said.
"There is a lot of building to do in Scotland, we are going to be with you, we are going to walk hand in hand with our party in Scotland to build that support once again so that the Labour tradition in Scotland will be re-established once again."
Meanwhile, shadow chancellor John McDonnell called on Corbyn's critics to "put up or shut up" following the election results. His call comes almost 21 years after John Major used the same language to take on Tory dissidents.
McDonnell said: “I’ve been talking to Labour party members all over the country, they’re saying for those begrudgers – because that’s what they are – for goodness sake, get behind the leader of the Labour party that was democratically elected, it’s time to put up or shut up. I think most Labour party members are saying look, you’re damaging our campaign by the continuous carping.
"I’ve never been in a situation where two days before a poll a group of them are talking to the media about a leadership coup – and yet we still do well. Look, get behind us and stop carping, there’s room for everyone in this Labour party, everyone can make a constructive contribution, that’s what we expect them to do.”
Major spectacularly put his five-year tenure of Downing Street on the line by resigning his leadership of the Conservative Party in June 1995. He then made a dramatic statement in the garden of 10 Downing Street as some of his closest Cabinet allies were already putting in motion contingency plans for a leadership campaign.