The Labour Party feels like it is in the middle of a “civil war”, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies has said.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Kate Osamor said the party was guilty of having “neglected many areas” of the country.
Following the party’s feat at the Copeland by-election, the shadow international development secretary said “no seat should be treated as safe”.
The close ally of Corbyn rejected calls for him to quit as leader and said it “may take many years” for people to support him.
“The members have a choice. Once the members do not want Jeremy then obviously we will step to one side,” she said.
In the interview, Osamor:
- Tells Labour MPs to knock on doors more
- Attacks Owen Jones for abandoning Corbyn
- Criticises Ed Miliband for having a non-London seat
- Speaks about being scared to visit Ukip voting areas
- Calls for Labour to impose a BAME ‘A-list’
Osamor was particularly critical of Owen Jones, the Guardian columnist and early Corbyn backer who has called for the leadership to be handed to another MP on the left of the party.
“A lot of the opposition, a lot of the people who are against Jeremy or feel it’s time for Jeremy to move to one side are people who are not used battling,” she said.
“Owen has said a lot of things about what he wanted. What he felt we needed - a revolution. We needed to change things, we needed someone who was progressive to come forward. And we’ve got that now. And it’s not suitable for him. It’s not what he wants. It’s not the way it should be going in his eyes. So now he is commentating on that.”
“You are used to writing,” she said of Jones. “And commentating. And reading. And looking through a lense. This is my reality. And I am used to it. And I know it takes time for things to work. It may take many years for people to accept that Jeremy wants to say something different on behalf of the majority.”
She added: “A lot of that is because he’s an academic, it’s not because he actually understands what struggle is.”
Amid speculation that Clive Lewis, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner are likely leadership contenders in the event Corbyn does step down ahead of the 2020 election, Osamor said she was not interested in the job herself.
“No,” she said when asked if she would like to be leader. “I’ve missed a lot of all of that [speculation] which is good.”
Osamor has a lower profile than some other shadow cabinet ministers and said she preferred to stay out of the limelight as “I just feel like it’s a civil war a little bit. It’s a bit aggressive.”.
In the interview, the shadow cabinet minister and Edmonton MP also hit out at “ignorant” attacks on the party for being too London-centric.
Osamor said if London has got a bad reputation in the rest of the country it was down to “the Islington elite going outside of Islington” and “representing in Sellafield and all the rest of it”.
She said the party needed to select local candidate for seats “Even Ed Miliband, where’s he representing, Doncaster?” she added.
““We have neglected many areas. So now we need a local person to fight for our local seats. It’s no longer we have safe seats. We don’t have safe seats anymore. We have seats we need to protect. We have to recongise Scotland. We have to look at our heartlands and say, ‘how are they are going, how have they been treated’.” she said. “The bottom line is if you neglect something it will eventually turn on you.”
She added: “All MPs have to be knocking on doors at least once a week for an hour. Every MP should be doing that,”
Osamor also said Labour needed to introduce ethnic-minority A-list to increase the number of non-white MPs in the party.
“We need to have a group of people who have been trained. The Tories do this. They bring people from a list. They get people ready. You are on the list, you are waiting. And if we call on you, off you go. It can be done,” she said.