Labour has been plunged into infighting following the news that polling organisation YouGov has placed left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as favourite to become the next leader of the party.
The poll placed the Islington North MP on 43 per cent of first preference votes to bookies’ favourite Andy Burnham’s tally of 26 per cent. Once votes from the other candidates have been transferred via the Alternative Vote, Corbyn is predicted to beat Burnham in the final round by 53 to 47.
This has led former Prime Minister and Labour’s most electorally successful leader Tony Blair to weigh in. He is seen as a supporter of centrist candidate Liz Kendall and told Labour supporters gathered in London this morning that “you don’t win [elections] from a traditional leftist position.”
Two of Blair’s former advisors during his days in Number 10 have been even more forthright in their views. John McTernan told BBC Newsnight that the poll’s figures were “disastrous” and later added that those MPs who had nominated Corbyn were “morons”. Darren Murphy, meanwhile, said that the party had been “taken over by a suicide cult”, with shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt, who is backing Kendall, comparing the popularity of Corbyn to the radical left anti-austerity movements in southern Europe on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Corbyn himself has hit back at the criticism from the right of his party, calling Blair’s remarks “silly” and unveiling more details about his likely economic policy should he become leader. These include raising taxes on wealthier households and reducing corporate tax relief.
Bookmakers still have shadow Health Secretary Burnham as slight favourite to win the contest when the results are announced in September, but Corbyn has come from a distant fourth favourite after struggling to gain the required number of nominations from the parliamentary Labour party to being a very serious challenger and possible winner.