Portsmouth’s senior Labour politician today warned that it would be ‘incredibly difficult’ for the party to win a general election under new leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The veteran left-winger, who had entered the race in June as 200-1 outsider, scored a stunning victory today after he secured 251,417 votes, equivalent to 59.5 per cent of all votes cast in the election.
Jeremy Corbyn 251,417 - 59.5 per cent
Andy Burnham 80,462 - 19 per cent
Yvette Cooper 71,928 - 17 per cent
Liz Kendall 18,857 - 4.5 per cent
And Portsmouth Labour group leader, Councillor John Ferrett, who had backed Liz Kendall to win and spoken out against Mr Corbyn, said it will be ‘incredibly difficult’ for the party to win the next general election.
Cllr Ferrett said he is ‘staying put’ in the party for now - but that may all change depending on whether Mr Corbyn’s views on defence and Britain’s Nato membership are endorsed and he is required to promote them.
Cllr Ferrett 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.’
Asked about his future, Cllr Ferrett said: ‘Today is not the day to make snap decisions. 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 said the party will be ‘punished’ in the next set of local elections next year.
Mr Rose said: ‘I have got to say, I am disappointed.
‘I vote 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 has not really any good.
‘I fear for the next couple of years. We will be punished in the local elections.’
But Havant Labour group leader, Cllr Terry Hart, was pleased with the result.
Cllr Hart 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.’
Earlier, Mr Corbyn was mobbed by dozens of supporters singing the Red Flag as he arrived at the special conference being held in London to unveil the successor to Ed Miliband.
Party sources said turnout in the ballot was 76.3 per cent of the 550,000 entitled to vote. But there was no immediate confirmation of the breakdown of voting between full party members, trade unionists and the “registered supporters” who paid £3 to secure a vote and are believed overwhelmingly to favour Mr Corbyn.
The Islington North MP, who has been on the Labour backbenches throughout his 32-year parliamentary career, entered the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre to chants of “Jez we can”.
There were more low-key arrivals for shadow home secretary Ms Cooper and the most Blairite candidate Ms Kendall, who has all but accepted defeat after trailing throughout the contest.
Sources have suggested only around 50,000 union members have cast their vote, about a fifth of the number who voted five years ago when Mr Miliband was elected leader.
Under reforms introduced by Mr Miliband, his successor is being elected by a one member, one vote system instead of the electoral college which placed more influence in the hands of politicians and unions.
The new leader faces a busy first few days, appointing a shadow cabinet, preparing to face David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions and dealing with the Government’s controversial anti-strike laws.
Corbyn supporters chanted “Jez we did” as he took to the stage, putting on his glasses to deliver his acceptance speech.
Mr Corbyn said the campaign “showed our party and our movement, passionate, democratic, diverse, united and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all.”
Mr Corbyn paid tribute to interim leader Harriet Harman, his predecessor Mr Miliband and his three leadership rivals, making a point of praising Ms Cooper for her intervention in the migrant crisis when she was the first major politician to demand that Britain takes in 10,000 Syrian refugees.
He announced he will attend a “Refugees Welcome Here” rally in London once the leadership conference is over.
He said: “My first act as leader of the party will be to go to the demonstration this afternoon to show support for the way refugees should be treated and must be treated in this country.”
Thanking a long list of unions and socialist societies which endorsed him as leader, Mr Corbyn said the Labour Party is “organically linked together” with the unions, adding: “That’s where we get our strength from.”
He made clear that his first day in Parliament as leader will see him oppose the Government’s efforts “to shackle unions in the Trade Union Bill which they are bringing forward on Monday”.
Tom Watson was today elected Labour’s deputy leader.