WARRINGTON North MP Helen Jones has spelled out in detail the reasons she cannot support Jeremy Corbyn in the ballot to elect the leader of the Labour Party.
In an email sent to Labour Party members and supporters in her constituency she warns that with Mr Corbyn as leader there is a very real possibility of Labour ending up with less than 200 seats in the House of Commons for the first time since 1935.
Yet the country needs a Labour government – as do the people of Warrington North, she says.
The full text of her message to supporters is as follows:
“As a member of the Party for over 40 years and as your Labour MP, I have watched with dismay what has been happening to Labour since the 2015 General Election.
“That election produced our worst result since the 1980s, the loss of all but one of our seats in Scotland and Labour representation cut to only 13 seats south of the Midlands (outside of London).
“The fact that our majority in Warrington North went up should not blind us to the wider picture.
“Since then, things have got worse. The party has fallen to third place in Scotland, behind the SNP and the Tories, lost our overall majority in the Welsh Assembly, and suffered a net loss of seats in the English council elections.
At the time of writing, the polls show Labour on between 26 per cent and 28 per cent support (which is between 12 per cent and 14 per cent behind the Conservatives), yet at this stage in the electoral cycle we should be polling at least 40 per cent to have a chance of winning the next General Election.
“When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, we were promised that he would improve Labour’s position, that the voters in Scotland would return to us and that we would gain more working class votes. None of this has happened. Instead the situation has got worse.
“Jeremy does not have the support of many people who have previously voted Labour.
“You will know that I spend a lot of my time out knocking doors in this constituency. Time and time again, people who were previously solid Labour voters tell me that they cannot vote for us with him in charge. People have come out into the street to tell me he has to go.
“Nor does he have the support of most of his colleagues in parliament. I have watched Jeremy’s performance in the House since he was elected, hoping that it would get better. It has not. He is simply not capable of taking on the Tories at the Dispatch Box.
“Many of my colleagues who were on the front bench have found it impossible to work with him. They have found that they agree policies only to find that something different is announced or that they cannot get meetings with him to decide important issues. Whether you like these things or not, they are facts and they will not go away.
“Yet we need a Labour government. The people we represent here in Warrington North need one. Everyday, my office deals with people who cannot manage on what they earn, who are at risk of losing their homes, who have long waits for the hospital treatment they need or whose children cannot find a decent job.
“These things cannot be changed by big rallies, however much people enjoy them. We are not a debating society. The Labour Party exists to win a parliamentary majority so that it can improve the life chances of people in this country. If we have no chance of doing that, then we have to ask if we are going in the right direction.
“Labour governments created the NHS and the welfare state. Labour governments gave women the right to equal pay, raised the school leaving age and built decent housing. It was the last Labour government which brought in the minimum wage, the right to paid holiday, the right to union recognition, which increased maternity leave, introduced paternity leave, brought homes up to the decent homes standard, and made a record investment into the NHS.
“That government built a new A&E department here in Warrington and provided the money to take over the private hospital that was once in its grounds, giving state of the art facilities to NHS patients. It opened Sure Start centres (now being closed by Tory cuts) and funded the Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood Hub. It improved the incomes of working people through its tax credits and gave extra money to the poorest pensioners.
“It was because of that government that I met families who could give their children a day out for the first time and pensioners who could have a holiday for the first time in years.
“None of this was achieved by rallies or talking to ourselves. It was achieved bypersuading people across the country, poor or well-off, old and young to vote for us.
“Sadly, I do not believe we can do this under Jeremy Corbyn. His personal ratings are dragging Labour down. Polls now show that only 18 per cent of voters would choose him, rather than Theresa May, as Prime Minister. If he continues as leader, there is a real risk of Labour ending up with less than 200 seats for the first time since 1935.
“That is why I am supporting Owen Smith in this ballot. He is capable of holding the Party together, he is good on the media and he appeals to a cross-section of voters. I believe that he can win the next General Election.”
Ms Jones asks people to visit Owen Smith’s website and appeals to Labour members to think about the future of the party and the future of people in Warrington North before casting their vote.
Helen Jones June 26 Liverpool Echo:
The Warrington North MP took to Twitter. She did not call for Jeremy Corbyn to go but her only tweet on the matter so far today has led to fury among Corbyn supporters: “Sorry to see @hilarybennmp go from the Shadow Cabinet. One of the most decent people in politics. @UKLabour needs people like him."
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