FORMER Labour leader Neil Kinnock has given his endorsement to Andy Burnham in the party’s leadership election, stating his belief that the shadow health secretary could win the 2020 General Election.
Lord Kinnock, who led Labour from 1983 to 1992, also issued a warning to supporters of the party tempted to back left wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn, as he cautioned that “it won’t be enough to protest ... our proposals for action must be able to attract votes from the breadth of the British people”.
The Labour peer, in an interview published today, also said that some of Mr Corbyn’s support may be coming from the “Trotskyite left and the Telegraph right” who are backing the backbench MP for “their own malign purposes” rather than out of the party’s best interests.
However, Mr Corbyn issued an appeal for unity after Mr Burnham warned the party risks being split by “factionalism” and “provocative” comments.
Mr Burnham’s warning came after a supporter of Mr Corbyn Dave Ward of the Communication Workers Union described the Islington North MP as the antidote to the Blairite “virus”.
In a statement, Mr Corbyn called for “comradeship and unity in action” during the remainder of the contest to chose the successor to Ed Miliband.
“The leadership election should be conducted with one thought in mind: our objective is to be a united party focused on winning the general election and campaigning across the country, day in day out,” said Mr Corbyn, the surprise bookies’ favourite who won more nominations from constituency parties than any of the other three contenders.
Dismissing predictions of schism, Mr Corbyn insisted: “When the dust has settled, we will still all be Labour.”
Liz Kendall - seen as the candidate of the Blairite wing of the party - accepted Mr Corbyn is ahead at this stage, but insisted: “Things will change.”
Party members are “desperate for an alternative to where we have been for the last five years, and they want hope for the future,” she said in an interview today.
The winner of the leadership contest involving Mr Corbyn, Mr Burnham, Ms Kendall and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, will be announced on 12 September.