Labour members to vote for Corbyn or Smith as leader
VOTING began yesterday to decide if Jeremy Corbyn (67) will remain leader of Britain’s Labour Party, with a bitter campaign deepening divisions that threaten the party’s future.
Ballots and online voting forms were due to be sent to party members, who will have until September 21 to decide whether to replace Corbyn with MP Owen Smith, 46, who was previously little known outside Westminster.
Smith precipitated the election by declaring his candidacy last month, warning that Corbyn’s leadership was making the possibility of a split in the party “dangerously real”.
Smith, a former member of Corbyn’s top team, is also targeting voters to the left of the party, promising a “socialist revolution”.
“Not some misty-eyed, romantic notion of a revolution where we are going to overthrow capitalism and return to a socialist nirvana ... but a cold-eyed, practical socialist revolution where we build a better Britain,” he said last month.
Corbyn is favourite to stay as leader, retaining the support of most trade unions and many who signed up last year to propel him to a shock win in the leadership election called after the party’s thrashing in the general election.
But he has failed to win over many of the party’s MPs, 80 percent of whom backed a recent vote of no confidence in their leader. The result of the leadership contest is to be announced on September 24 during a special congress in Liverpool, northwest England.
Britain’s vote on June 23 to leave the European Union provided the catalyst for the leadership challenge, with many in the party criticising Corbyn’s performance during the campaign.
Last month, Labour MP Angela Eagle said she was withdrawing from the race to topple Corbyn, saying she would give her support to Smith to boost the chances of a leadership change. — AFP