Video: Portsmouth Labour leader fears for future of party under Jeremy Corbyn

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth            Picture: PA

RICK JACKSON: The patriotism inspired by HMS Queen Elizabeth is wonderful

  • Veteran left-wing politician storms to victory after bagging nearly 60 per cent of vote
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s appointment receives mixed views across region
12
Have your say

He stormed to a landslide victory in the Labour Party leadership election after scooping up more than a quarter of a million votes.

But there have been plenty of mixed views on Jeremy Corbyn’s appointment across the Portsmouth area – with some hailing it a ‘new dawn’ for Labour and others fearing it will be a total disaster.

Jeremy Corbyn takes to the stage after he was announced as the Labour Party's new leader

Jeremy Corbyn takes to the stage after he was announced as the Labour Party's new leader

The veteran left-winger, who entered the race in June as a 200-1 outsider, bagged 251,417 votes, equivalent to 59.5 per cent of the total 422,664 votes cast.

Trailing behind were leadership hopefuls Andy Burnham, with 80,462 votes, Yvette Cooper, with 71,928 and Liz Kendall, who only picked up 4.5 per cent of the vote share with 18,857.

In his acceptance speech to supporters in Westminster following the announcement at a conference on Saturday, Mr Corbyn called for ‘unity’ and announced his ambition to lead a Labour fightback.

Yet Portsmouth Labour group leader, Councillor John Ferrett, an outspoken critic of Mr Corbyn, said he had deep concerns for the future.

Jeremy Corbyn will be a unifying force, not a dividing force. It’s a new dawn for the Labour Party.

Gosport Labour Party secretary Alan Durrant

When asked about his future in the party, Cllr Ferrett said he was ‘staying put’ for now, but that may change if Mr Corbyn’s views on defence spending and Britain’s Nato membership are endorsed.

Cllr Ferrett, who had backed Ms Kendall to win, told The News: ‘I would like to congratulate Jeremy Corbyn in the same way I would congratulate anyone who has fought an election campaign.

‘Nevertheless, this puts Labour in a position where it’s going to be incredibly difficult for us to win power back with Jeremy Corbyn as leader.’

‘Liz Kendall’s vote shows how far the party has shifted to the left.’

‘My intention is to stick around in the party and fight for those things that I believe in.

‘And that is what many Labour activists and supporters believe in, and that’s Labour making a difference to people’s lives.’

But he added: ‘What I won’t campaign for is policies such as leaving Nato, cutting Trident, cutting defence expenditure and leaving the EU.

‘All of these policies will be an absolute disaster for our country.

‘If the party’s policies turn in that direction, there may well be a lot of people considering their position, and that may well include me.’

Fareham Labour Party spokesman Stuart Rose was equally concerned and believes the party will be ‘punished’ in the next set of local elections next year.

Mr Rose said: ‘I am disappointed.

‘I voted for Yvette Cooper, and I am at a loss to explain what is going on with the party.

‘I am absolutely certain it was the £3 supporters who voted for him.

‘I can’t believe that only 4.5 per cent of voters voted for Liz Kendall and only 17 per cent for Yvette Cooper.

He added: ‘I fear we will lose hard working councillors up and down the country next year.

‘All three of the other candidates were swept aside by Corbyn-mania.

‘And actually, he is not really any good.

‘I fear for the next couple of years. We will be punished in the local elections.’

Yet Alan Durrant, secretary of Gosport Labour Party, was ‘absolutely delighted’ to see Mr Corbyn secure the job.

He said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn will be a unifying force, not a dividing force.

‘It’s a new dawn for the Labour Party.

‘The party is now a force to be reckoned with again, with a new set of ideals.

‘Mr Corbyn has an anti-austerity policy and we expect to see a show of support for anti-austerity measures, support for the trade unions and support for the public services.

‘I am absolutely delighted.’

And Havant Borough Council’s Labour group leader, Cllr Terry Hart, was pleased.

He said: ‘It’s a breath of fresh air.

‘What we will end up doing through the natural process, is sort out what our policies will be in the future.

‘He seems to be fresh-thinking.

‘There are always going to be areas where you are going to disagree because the Labour Party is a broad church.

‘But the important thing is we are talking back to the policies and the foundation on which the Labour Party was based.’

Portsmouth Lib Dem group leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said it will give renewed hope to many Labour members.

He said: ‘It was a commanding victory – 60 per cent of the vote compared to 19 per cent.

‘And yet Andy Burnham had said he had a chance of winning.

‘It will give hope to a whole generation of Labour supporters who felt completely excluded for 20 years. The problem is, he will be ripped to pieces at the general election, and Labour are likely to lose appallingly with him as leader.’

Cllr Donna Jones, Tory leader of Portsmouth City Council, said Mr Corbyn doesn’t reflect the views of ‘socialist voters’.

She said: ‘This is terrible for the country, for the Labour movement and Mr Corbyn doesn’t reflect the views of socialist voters across the UK.

‘He reflects the views of the trade unionist movement. For the Conservative Party, this is great news.

‘It puts a lot of clear water between the Conservatives and the Labour Party.’