Defiant Labour leader marks 100 days at helm

Lisa Nandy MP
Lisa Nandy MP

THE odds on Wigan’s MP Lisa Nandy being the next Labour leader have shortened recently but the wait could be a long one.

Jeremy Corbyn has sent out a defiant message to his MPs he is “not going anywhere” as he yesterday passed 100 days in the party’s top job.

Having won this year’s leadership election from a starting position of rank outsider, onlookers had claimed the veteran left-winger would not be able to see out a full election cycle.

But with a recent approval boost as a result of the Oldham by-election he has told colleagues not to “obsess” about him and get on with their jobs.

The 100 days mark comes as odds on shadow energy secretary Ms Nandy have fallen as low as 6/1, placing her in the favourites list to replace her boss alongside shadow defence secretary Hilary Benn, Dan Jarvis and deputy leader Tom Watson.

In an interview with a national newspaper this week, Mr Corbyn was asked if he expected to lead the opposition in the 2020 general election campaign, he said: “Absolutely. I’m not going anywhere.”

He urged MPs to “recognise” the scale of grassroots support that swept him to a surprise landslide victory in the election contest and denied critics were being targeted by a “mob” of Corbynite backers.

His deputy Mr Watson has described the pro-Corbyn Momentum organisation which emerged from the leadership campaign as a “rabble”.

But the leader said: “They should recognise that I was elected with a very large mandate from a very wide variety of people from all parts of the movement. There is no imposition of any mob. What there is is a development of participatory democracy. The parliamentary party is a part of the party, a very important part, but it is not the totality of the Labour party.”

He said: “I would encourage them to share their talents with all of us, not keep it to themselves. Some people are more difficult to reach than others. They shouldn’t obsess about me.”

Mr Corbyn also did not rule out a shadow cabinet reshuffle to remove critics of his leadership.

And he warned critics they “better get used” to party members having a bigger influence over policy as he suggested he could use a grassroots poll to bolster support for his opposition to Trident.

Asked if he could also go directly to members and supporters, he said: “Yeah. I’ve done that on the Syria vote.

“In 36 hours we got 80,000 replies. There may have been more later. We sampled them and we got overwhelming opposition to bombing.

“I hope that had an influence on what Labour MPs were thinking, I hope that had an influence on public opinion. I don’t apologise for that, I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s something I will do again.”

Ms Nandy, who was tipped to stand in the leadership race this year before pledging support for borough colleague Andy Burnham, was around the 20/1 mark in September.