DEEP divisions over Labour’s future economic policy have emerged as shadow chancellor Chris Leslie has warned that hard-left leadership front-runner Jeremy Corbyn’s plans would “hurt the poorest”.
After admitting that he would be one of eight frontbenchers who would refuse to serve in Mr Corbyn’s team, Mr Leslie launched a broadside against the Mr Corbyn’s policies claiming they would be a “disaster” for the party and country.
Taxpayers will lose faith in the public realmChris Leslie
He also called on Mr Corbyn’s rivals – Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Blairite Liz Kendall – to start taking him on over his policies rather than any possible electoral outcome.
Mr Leslie urged party members to “think carefully” about the impact of the Islington North MP’s policies.
And he warned that Mr Corbyn would be unable to eliminate the deficit through tackling tax avoidance and cutting tax reliefs, leading to further cutbacks in public services, so that “taxpayers will lose faith in the public realm, will become more sceptical and cynical, and be more likely to exit and go to private health and education”.
He went on: “Economic credibility isn’t just about winning at all costs. There are reasons for caring about it, attending to those issues, rather than adopting ill-thought through policies that, in the end, will hurt those on the lowest incomes, because those cost of living questions matter a massive amount.
“We need a credible Labour prime minister and this is why party members have got to think carefully because so much is at stake here.”
Meanwhile, Labour MP John Woodcock, who is backing Liz Kendall, said he is concerned about the party’s image “taking a massive leap back to the politics of Michael Foot and the 1980s” following the surge in support for Mr Corbyn. He said: “It’s not simply about political economic credibility – though that is of course of huge importance for the Labour party – it’s also that these things would not achieve their intended aim and therefore would end up hurting the very people the Labour party was formed to represent.”
Labour stalwart David Winnick said concern about the prospect of a Corbyn victory was not confined to the party’s right-wing. Mr Winnick, who defined himself as being on the “broad left” of Labour, said: “It’s simply not the case that it is only the Right, the Blairites or those close to the Blairites, who are concerned about Jeremy winning.”
Labour’s decisive successes under Harold Wilson and Tony Blair had relied on winning a broad coalition of support, including persuading many Tory supporters to change allegiance for the first time, he said.
“There will be no decisive victory – and perhaps no victory at all – next time round unless we have a very broad front, unless the party is able to appeal to people outside the comfort zone,” Mr Winnick said.
“I have much fear and anxiety that Jeremy will not appeal to the large section of the nation that we need to win over.”