One of Labour’s largest donors has pledged to stand against Jeremy Corbyn in the general election if he does not quit
Michael Foster, who has given more than £400,000 to the party since 2010, said Labour faces “annihilation” on 8 June because the “blinkered” leader lacks the characteristics to win.
Foster, a celebrity agent whose clients have included Chris Evans and Sacha Baron Cohen, even made the sensational claim that supporting the current leader “means supporting a political strategy that kills people”, linking Tory dominance to longer heart operation wait times.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Foster said:
“There are a lot of things a political party looks for in a leader. Jeremy Corbyn possesses none of them. Because of him, Labour faces annihilation at the polls.”
Foster, who was suspended by the party after launching a legal bid to oust Corbyn last year, said the results of the local elections on May 4 should decide his fate. Issuing an ultimatum, he said:
“If the results are as bad as predicted, then Jeremy should stand down voluntarily and let someone else lead the fight in June.
“If he does not – and I don’t believe he ever would – I would be very happy to fight him and his fellow travellers on the extreme left of the party by standing in his constituency of Islington North.”
Corbyn has been MP for the north London constituency since 1983 and boasts a majority of more than 20,000.
Experts have predicted Labour will suffer heavy losses across the country in the council elections, while a study published on Sunday said it seemed unlikely the party would retain any authorities at all in Scotland.
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are expected to make significant gains in England and Wales, while the SNP and Scottish Tories are expected to reap the benefits of strong opinion polls in Scotland.
Foster said the Tories stood to benefit from Corbyn’s “incoherence, weakness and lack of leadership”, accusing him of underestimating the support for Brexit among Labour’s traditional voters.
Even in the event of an electoral disaster, Corbyn would not stand down, relying instead on the support of the party membership to fend off a vote of no confidence, Foster predicted. He said:
“Jeremy’s activist supporters will ensure this blinkered, ineffective leader is immediately elected again. Unfortunately, supporting him as leader means supporting a political strategy that kills people.
“By 1997 after 18 years of Tory government, the waiting time for a heart operation was up to 18 months, and by 2003 Labour had reduced the average wait to just four months.
“But now as waiting lists get longer through lack of Tory investment in the NHS, more people die waiting for their operation, at about the same rate that Corbyn and his fellow travellers make Labour more unelectable.”
Foster, who has repeatedly criticised Corbyn’s tenure as party leader, launched a failed legal bid to block him from the leadership ballot triggered by a shadow cabinet revolt last summer.
He was later suspended by the party after comparing Corbyn’s allies to Hitler’s stormtroopers, alleging in a newspaper article that he had been smeared as a Jewish donor to the party.