Tonbridge backs Corbyn in his leadership battle

Paul Apps Benenden Hospital

The Chairman of Tonbridge & Malling Labour Party has claimed Jeremy Corbyn’s prospects of surviving the challenge to his position as leader this month remain strong.

But Jim Parish did admit that while the party’s national leader retained grassroots support, the question over whether the 67-year-old MP for Islington North is the right person to lead them into the next General Election ‘remained open’.

Mr Corbyn is facing a challenge from former Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Owen Smith, who has hit out at what he described as his party leader’s ‘featherweight challenge’ to Conservative dominance in Westminster.

However, despite an unprecedented situation of more than two thirds of Labour MPs placing a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, he refused to resign.

The scenario has left many fearing a permanent split within the party, amid dozens of resignations from its senior positions over the past few months.

In Tonbridge, the area’s party leader chaired a meeting last month at the Angel Centre, which voted 23-7 in favour of retaining Jeremy Corbyn as leader in an informal expression of support.

Mr Parish said: “Jeremy Corbyn has been leader for nine months now and a lot of members felt this was not the right time to have an election contest.

“When he became leader he expressed views that were held by party members that hadn’t been heard for a long time. He had voted against the war in Iraq, and had switched the party’s focus to overtly speaking against the Government’s austerity programme, as well as challenging levels of Government borrowing that reached record levels.

“Whether he would make a good Prime Minister remains to be seen, but by the autumn we will be able to focus, once this election that has caused divisions has been decided.”

Party members received ballot papers last week, with the results of the election to be declared at the Labour Party Conference on September 24.

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