Ex-Norwich MP tells Corbyn to toughen up against opposition in Labour party

Ian Gibson, former Labour MP for Norwich North. Photo: Archant

Ian Gibson, former Labour MP for Norwich North. Photo: Archant - Credit: vÉÄövǬ©Archant Pho

Jeremy Corbyn should toughen up against the opposition within his party, an old ally of the veteran left-winger has said.

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Ian Gibson, who was part of the old socialist campaign group with Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, warned the threat of de-selections would loom large after the leadership election result next month, if he was victorious.

The former Norwich North MP has not renewed his Labour Party membership since he was deselected as a party candidate after he was caught up in the 2009 expenses scandal. But said it was exciting that Mr Corbyn had the opportunity to change things after years of being a minority in the party, and being completely ignored.

'Nobody wants New Labour now. They want something else. He doesn't want people getting in his way. The question of de-selection will loom large in certain constituencies. It has not started, it is going to get really interesting. I can imagine Jeremy and others wanted to get rid of the opposition within and start on the opposition without.'

'I think we suffered so long under the Blair government and Brown government, in terms of being isolated and ridiculed, that the tendency to get your own back is going to be very strong. You can pretend you want to have a nice friendly relationship with the enemy, but politics doesn't work like that. At some point you have to stand up and challenge them. I think when he wins he will do that. I think the public, who are voting for him and will vote for him expect that.'


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He suggested the MPs like Andy Burnham who is standing for the job of elected mayor for Manchester had seen the writing on the wall.

But Dr Gibson acknowledged that it was going to be a big challenge to get a team around him who were tough and respected by the public.

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'They are going to be trying to knife him in the back forever more.'

'I think Jeremy is going to have to toughen up and do it to them. They have been the aggressive ones in the last few years as they were from 1997 on. It is a continuation. I don't know why they don't like Jeremy. What he is saying is very popular with a lot of people.'Dr Gibson said that if Mr Corbyn won, the next step of 'taking on the real establishment within the country to get things done' was the hard one.

'Jeremy knows what he would like to do, whether he can get out and get it though is going to be a difficult one, given the support of the Labour Party, but people generally.

'When you go to Carrow Road there are not many people thinking about the Labour Party, but they want the world to be different, They want jobs, benefits, holidays, kids getting schooled and they realise that some of the people running the schools are getting huge sums of money. They don't know how to change it, That is where political parties need to show they can change it. There are lots of serious political people who are sympathetic to the Labour Party, not necessarily members who would like to hear how it is done.

He said that people were looking for detail from the Labour leader and acknowledged that Mr Corbyn needed to show people he knew how things will change and convince people to vote for him.

'That is the detail peple want to hear. Jeremy has opened a Pandora's box of change, but just how brave he is going to be and what support he has got, he hasn't got a shadow cabinet anybody knows anything about. Some of them have got three jobs. He has not got a team around him that are up to the challenges. He has got the support in the streets, but not the people around him. He has the ideas, but needs to be pushed a bit. It comes from being on the back foot for so long in your life and being active in London. The problems in London are different to the problems in Scotland and different to the problems in Newcastle.'

'I am hopeful. I think Jeremy knows what he wants to do, but whether he has got the determination from other people to do it after he wins. He is the best hope at the minute. There is noone else.'

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