‘I think Lewis-ism is about brutal honesty’ - Norwich MP vies for Labour leadership

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Neil Didsbury - Credit: Archant

Norwich MP Clive Lewis has said he will seek to provide 'brutal honesty' if he is elected leader of his party.

The Norwich South MP is one of six vying to be elected leader of the party after Jeremy Corbyn's post-election announcement that he would step down.

On Tuesday night the six MPs - Mr Lewis, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Sir Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips - made their opening pitches to the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Mr Lewis later appeared on BBC Two's Newsnight programme, where he said he would provide "brutal honesty" if elected leader.

He said: "I think Lewis-ism is about brutal honesty and about the fact that we are facing a crisis of democracy and social democracy.

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"And that ultimately, if we want to transform this country, we have to transform ourselves as well and that means asking some tough questions about what kind of party we want to be and what country we want to lead."

And on Wednesday morning, on BBC2's Politics Live, Mr Lewis gave former leader Mr Corbyn a mark of six out of 10.

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After initially saying it wasn't for him to give a mark because the public had already given their response, he gave his score.

He said mistakes had been made, including over the party's position on Brexit, but said there had also been successes under his leadership.

And amid speculation over how many nominations had been received, with one reports that he had not received any, Mr Lewis tweeted: "Just to clarify, this doesn't reflect the nominations I've had confirmed, it's just the people who've submitted officially so far.

"Most PLP members were waiting until after hustings. We're in it to win it!"

Shadow business secretary Ms Long-Bailey said that in losing the election, Labour "let down the people who rely on us".

"Our number one duty as Labour MPs is to learn the lessons of defeat and make sure we don't repeat them," she told the private meeting.

Earlier, the frontbencher insisted that she was not the "continuity candidate" to replace Mr Corbyn, but gave him a "10 out of 10 rating" - describing him as "one of the most honest, kind, principled politicians I've ever met".

She told ITV: "What we can't ignore was that Jeremy was savaged from day one by the press ... We have a role as a party to develop the image of our leader and to put them forward in the most positive way, but we also have a duty to rebut criticism and attacks.

"As a party we needed to have a rebuttal unit, a clear structure in place to rebut the attacks against him."

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir told the hustings that the party needs to "win back our heartlands".

He said: "We need to understand and to address each and every reason we lost at this election, but we also need to win back Scotland, we need to win back seats in Wales, and if you draw a line from London to Bristol and look south we only have a handful seats. So, we have got a mountain to climb."

Rival Ms Nandy, the MP for Wigan, said the leadership debate was "possibly the most important in our history".

"Now is not the time to steady the ship. If we do not change course we will die and we will deserve to," she added.

And Ms Phillips told the hustings she does not want to be the next leader of the opposition, but rather "the next Labour prime minister - I want the people here to be in government".

"I have dedicated my life to trying to change the lives of others, but I am sick of just shifting the dial, I want to smash it," the Birmingham Yardley MP said.

The new Labour leader and deputy will be announced at a conference on April 4.

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