Labour MPs told to stop 'parading on the media' - unless they're attacking Tories
Jeremy Corbyn got supportive cheers as he delivered his message to the parliamentary party on Monday evening.
Labour's leader has called on his warring MPs to stop attacking each other and instead turn their fire on the Tories.
Jeremy Corbyn hit out at his backbench critics for "parading on the media to give a running commentary on our party" and said it must stop.
Labour MPs believe the rebuke, issued ahead of a meeting with MPs, was aimed at colleagues such as John Mann. The Bassetlaw MP had toured TV studios in the run-up to the local elections in order to criticise Ken Livingstone.
But Corbyn also tried to win over internal critics by admitting that last week's results were 'mixed' and not good enough.
In comments released before the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday evening, Corbyn insisted it was now time for Labour MPs to work together against the Government.
"We need to reflect on the impact of what we do and say here on the public outside, across the country. I don’t expect, or even want, blind loyalty, but members and supporters expect us all to focus on taking on the Tories – and for our debates to be focused on policy, not personality.
"Members also tell me that they don’t think Labour MPs should be parading on the media to give a running commentary on our party. If we are on the media we are there to give our verdict on this failed and divisive government, not on each other.
"We need, if not across-the-board unity, then at least respect for each other - and to turn our fire on this Tory government, and its forced academisation, tax and disability cuts policies in utter disarray.
"It’s been said in the past few days we need to stop talking about ourselves and engaging with the concerns and priorities of the wider public. I suggest we all follow that advice."
It was not lost on MPs that the comments came just a day after Corbyn's top ally, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, was involved in an extraordinary Twitter spat with Caroline Flint.
Sources at the meeting revealed that the Labour leader got cheered for saying there needed to be less briefing to the media. However it is also understood that the message was toned down - and Corbyn did not explicitly tell MPs not to parade in front of the press.
In his comments before the meeting, Corbyn also admitted that Labour was not yet doing enough to win in 2020, but insisted the party was heading in the right direction following last week's local elections.
In a bid to win over internal critics, he said: "Last year we were nearly seven points behind. The projection from Thursday’s results by the BBC and Professor John Curtice shows that nationally we are now a point ahead of the Tories in our national share of the vote.
"But let’s be clear. The results were mixed. We are not yet doing enough to win in 2020. This is only the first stage in our task of building a winning electoral majority, attracting voters from all the other parties and mobilising those who have been turned off politics altogether – as we did last week in Bristol and London."
He added: "Last week’s elections showed Labour’s recovery has begun in earnest. We now need to work together to turn that into the kind of sustained revival that will deliver an election victory for the whole country in 2020."