Mandelson slaps down Rayner and Corbynistas after Batley by-election

‘A period of silence on their part would now be welcome’: Blairite Lord Mandelson slaps down Angela Rayner and the hard Left who hoped for Labour defeat in Batley in order to topple Keir Starmer

  • The Blairite peer demanded ‘a period of silence’ from Corbynistas on the Left 
  • They hoped for a Labour defeat in order to mount a challenge against Starmer 
  • Also said Rayner was ‘egged on by people serving their own factional purposes’ 

Former minister Lord Mandelson told Labour’s hard left to shut up today as he rounded on critics of party leader Sir Keir Starmer in the wake of the Batley & Spen by-election victory

The Blairite peer demanded ‘a period of silence’ from Corbynista critics of the Opposition Leader who hoped for a Labour defeat in order to mount a challenge against him.

Lord Mandelson also hit out at deputy leader Angela Rayner, seen as one of the leading candidates to challenge Sir Keir, saying she had been ‘egged on by people who are serving their own factional purposes and interests’ and that ‘she should realise that these are not her friends’.

Ms Rayner has denied being involved in a potential putsch against her boss a little over a year into his leadership. But last night’s by-election victory in West Yorkshire has been seen by many of the Left as a make-or-break moment for many on the left.

In May former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said a defeat in a seat which Tracy Brabin won with a majority of 3,525 in 2019 would have meant it was ‘curtains’ for Sir Keir. 

He was under pressure following a series of humiliating electoral defeats in the hartlepool by-election and mayoral votes in the West Midlands and Tees Valley.

But after Kim Leadbeater won with a slim majority of 323 over the Tories – with hard Left challenger George Galloway taking 8,000 votes, Lord Mandelson told the BBC: ‘There were elements of the Corbynite left who seemed far too eager during this campaign for Galloway’s presence to result in a blow to Keir Starmer and his leadership.

The Blairite peer demanded ‘a period of silence’ from Corbynista critics of the Opposition Leader who hoped for a Labour defeat in order to mount a challenge against him.

Lord Mandelson also hit out at deputy leader Angela Rayner, seen as one of the leading candidates to challenge Sir Keir, saying she had been ‘egged on by people who are serving their own factional purposes and interests’ and that ‘she should realise that these are not her friends’.

Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, has managed to fend off Tory challenger Ryan Stephenson, who came second, and maverick Mr Galloway, who came third, with a majority of just 323

Kim Leadbeater of the Labour Party sticks up her thumb as she reacts to the media after winning the Batley and Spen by-election this morning

‘While others were campaigning in Batley they were conspiring and they should now stop their whispering, their agitation of Angela Rayner. She should realise that these are not her friends.

‘She has been egged on by people who are serving their own factional purposes and interests, not hers.’

He added: ‘To paraphrase an old Clement Attlee quote about these elements, a period of silence on their part would now be welcome.’

Speaking in the constituency this morning, Sir Keir tried to fuse the win with England’s Euro 2020 success, declaring: ‘Labour is back. This is just the start. I want many more days like this. Labour is coming home.’  

Meanwhile, senior Tories blamed their second-placed finish on Matt Hancock. 

Amanda Milling, the co-chairman of the Conservative Party, said the former health secretary’s romance with aide Gina Coladangelo ‘was something that came up’ on the doorstep following his resignation last Saturday. 

Tory peer and pollster Lord Hayward said Mr Hancock’s behaviour was likely one of the reasons why the party lost, along with Boris Johnson’s failure to sack him. 

He said: ‘I think it’s a combination of both sides- it’s not just Matt Hancock, it is the decision of the Prime Minister, because of the apparent delay in taking action.’  

The polling expert Sir John Curtice said many Tories will inevitably blame the scandal for the election defeat. 

Labour held the constituency with a wafer-thin majority following a brutal few weeks on the campaign trail that saw candidates abused and heightened racial and sectarian tension.

Murdered Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater won for the party as she fended off Tory challenger Ryan Stephenson, who came second, and maverick George Galloway, who came third.

Speaking after she was declared the winner, Ms Leadbeater said she had thought about her family and her sister often during the last few weeks, adding: ‘If I can be half the MP Jo was, I know I will do her proud.’

She also thanked West Yorkshire Police for the protection she had been given amid claims supporters of Mr Galloway’s Workers Party had intimidated her, as she said: ‘Sadly I needed them more than ever.’

The Labour MP added: ‘I’m absolutely delighted that the people of Batley and Spen have rejected division and they’ve voted for hope.’ 

Labour sources suggested the win should prompt Sir Keir’s critics to retreat, telling Politico: ‘Everyone’s been calling this a referendum on Keir’s leadership. Well, we’ve won — bucked the trend, held onto this marginal seat and advanced in Tory areas. A fantastic result.’

In a sign that Sir Keir’s position is now stabilising, Diane Abbott, the former shadow home secretary and a key figure on the Labour left, said ‘we won and we are moving forward’.

Source: Read Full Article