POLITICS

Jeremy Corbyn Has The Most Support In Local Labour Parties

17/07/2015 10:46 BST | Updated 17/07/2015 12:59 BST
Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 10: Labours candidates for Leader and Deputy Leader Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn take part in a hustings in The Old Fruitmarket, Candleriggs on July 10, 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland. The four candidates for the Labour Leader ship Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall, Jeremy Corbyn and Yvette Cooper faced questions on a range of issues including immigration, welfare and the economy. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Jeremy Corybn has leapt into the lead in the Labour leadership race when it comes to the support of local Labour parties.

At the last count, the leftwinger has the backing of 55 constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), just ahead of Andy Burnham who has the support of 52. Yvette Cooper has won over 42, while Liz Kendall has 10.

The backing of CLPs does not necessarily represent the true support of the candidates in the race, but it does give an indication of their standing.

Earlier this week the New Statesman surprised Westminster after it reported an internal Labour poll that showed Corbyn was on course to win the leadership.

The Islington North MP had not been expected to come anywhere near winning the race, with Burnham and Cooper seen as the frontrunners.

The poll sent a shiver through the centrist and Blairite wings of the party. Last night on Newsnight Chuka Umunna accused Labour colleagues of "behaving like a petulant child" in the wake of the party's disastrous general election defeat.

The shadow business secretary, who aborted his own leadership campaign after only a few days, said his party looked like it was "screaming at the electorate" and said Jeremy Corbyn did not represent a "a politics that can win".

Umunna is backing Kendall in the leadership race. And while the Leicester West MP risks coming fourth in the contest, she has some big supporters. Today three former Labour chief whips, Jacqui Smith, Baroness Taylor and Baroness Armstrong have come out in support of Kendall.

Writing on The Huffington Post, the trio say Labour stands on the precipice of electing a women leader. "Labour needs a leader with a core of steel, who won't always tell people what they want to hear, but will tell the truth about what our country needs. That's the kind of leadership that commands respect. In short, we need a woman determined to become Labour's next prime minister. And that is why we are backing Liz Kendall," they write.

The leadership race is currently dominated by the debate over whether or not to to oppose some of George Osborne's welfare cuts.

Last night Harriet Harman accepted Labour MPs' demands to be able to register a vote against elements of the Government's welfare squeeze in a bid to quell a mounting revolt over her support for a tax credit curb.

Under pressure from three of the four leadership contenders to reverse a decision not to oppose a reduced benefits cap and a two-child limit on tax credits, the interim leader will table a "wrecking" amendment to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

But she has made clear that, if it fails, MPs will then be expected not to vote against the progress of the legislation to detailed consideration, renewing warnings that Labour must "listen to the public concerns about welfare".

That would leave whoever emerged as the victor of the leadership election in September free to decide how to proceed at the later stages of the Bill's passage through Parliament, a spokesman said.

At least 40 rebels led by former welfare minister Helen Goodman had tabled their own amendment in a bid to force Ms Harman's hand over her refusal to condemn the entire crackdown on benefits set out in Chancellor George Osborne's Budget last week.

Three of the four would-be leaders have denounced the stance - with Kendall the only one to endorse it publicly - and front-runner Burnham calling for a such a "reasoned amendment" at a shadow cabinet meeting.

Harman argued at a fraught meeting of the parliamentary party on Monday that doing so would make Labour appear to voters that it was opposed to all cuts - telling them the party had gained nothing from pursuing such a strategy under Ed Miliband.