Ken Livingstone has said Jeremy Corbyn will not change direction despite being “stabbed in the back” by Labour MPs.
The former mayor of London said this morning the split between MPs and the leadership was Tony Blair’s fault as the Parliamentary Labour Party had “skewed to the right” under his leadership.
Corbyn and his media chief Seumas Milne came under attack from angry Labour MPs last night over claims that left-wing group Momentum was plotting to take over the party.
But Livingstone, who was suspended by Labour last year for comments about Hitler, hit back this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“The thing about Jeremy Corbyn is he doesn’t give into this sort of pressure,” he said.
“He’s been absolutely consistent since he became the party leader, and however much the press ramp it up, however much he’s stabbed in the back by Labour MPs, he’s not going to change his beliefs or the direction he’s taking us to.”
While Corbyn has denied he plans to quit as leader, there is fight within the party over how to choose his successor.
Currently, a candidate must obtain the support of 15% of Labour MPs and MEPs in order to stand – a threshold a new left wing contender is unlikely to be able to meet.
Allies of Corbyn want to reduce the threshold to 5% in order to increase the chances of a leftwinger making it onto the ballot.
Livingstone said it the 15% bar was undemocratic as it unfairly blocked some MPs from standing for leader.
“It’s the legacy of Tony Blair, because it used to be the case that a party could select whoever it wanted as an MP. Tony Blair bought in the rule changes, you had to choose from approve lists,” he said.
“We have got to get a party that’s democratic again, [where] any local Labour party can select the candidate they want for parliament and anyone can stand for the leadership when we have a leadership election. This is more like something out of a dictatorship, not a democracy.”
The internal war in the party erupted into public again yesterday when Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, accused Momentum founder Jon Lansman of trying to “destroy” the party with a plan to use the Unite union to help the left wing campaign group influence at every level in the party.