“Work with Jeremy Corbyn… should he win.” That was the conciliatory message from Chuka Umunna to his Labour colleagues on Tuesday, an apparent olive branch from the modernisers to the Labour leadership frontrunner and his supporters.
In a speech to the Policy Network think-tank in the Netherlands, the shadow business secretary warned MPs disgruntled by Corbyn's impending victory that they must "support our new leader in developing an agenda that can return Labour to office,” adding that the party should accept the views of the new members, many who lean away from the Blairite past.
"Solidarity is key which is why we must accept the result of our contest when it comes and support our new leader in developing an agenda that can return Labour to office," he said.
Umanna, who has yet to say whether he will accept a post in a Corbyn-led shadow cabinet, said members can't "simply dismiss out of hand those who hold critical views of New Labour.” He added: “Like any government, the New Labour administration made mistakes -- it could and should have achieved more, and done more to challenge the right's assumptions about the world."
"In the end, it is not unreasonable to be ambitious for what your party in government can achieve in building greater equality, liberty, democracy and sustainability,” he said. "It is far better we acknowledge, not reject, this ambition for a better world, as we seek to forge a new politics of the common good fit for the future."
Bemoaning Labour’s central control, Umunna called for Arnie Graf, a former advisor to Barack Obama, to return to the party to corral the huge influx of new members. Ed Miliband returned Graf to Chicago in 2014.
"Some have joined in order to thwart the pursuit of Labour values but many more have joined to further the pursuit of those values, including lots of young people,” he said. “At a time when so many are walking away from centre left parties across the Western world and many young people do not vote let alone join a party, this is surely something to celebrate.”
Earlier, in a Channel 4 hustings, leadership rival Andy Burnham suggested Corbyn was an apologist for Vladimir Putin. Corbyn rejected the charge, despite having criticised Nato for not disbanding at the end of the Cold War.
At the same event, fellow rival Yvette Cooper called Corbyn’s economic plans a "private finance initiative on steroids.” On the issue of quantitative easing, she said: “This idea that you can just print money when the economy is growing in order to pay for infrastructure -- you are pushing up borrowing and inflation, and it has a big impact on the currency."
"We have to have an alternative but if it is not credible and it is not real, it falls apart between your fingers, and you are letting people down. It is the private finance initiative on steroids,” she added.