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UB40 rivals give mixed messages in Labour leadership race

Published 06/09/2016

Jeremy Corbyn is seeking re-election as Labour leader
Jeremy Corbyn is seeking re-election as Labour leader

Reggae band UB40 hailed Jeremy Corbyn as the man who can "transform" Britain as they endorsed his leadership campaign.

The chart-toppers said the Opposition leader was "incorruptible" and a "man of the people" as they backed his bid to remain at the top of the Labour Party.

But former members who formed another group that also performs under the name UB40 pointedly failed to back the Opposition leader.

Ali Campbell, the group's original lead singer and brother of two members of the rival outfit, along with fellow bandmates Mickey Virtue and Terence "Astro" Wilson would only go as far as reaffirm their support for Labour.

A statement, released by their publicist, said: "Ali, Astro and Mickey have always been great supporters of the Labour Party, and they look forward to the new leader taking the Labour Party back into government at the earliest opportunity."

And another 1980s music star was quick to mock the celebrity endorsement by highlighting the splits and divisions that have beset both the political party and the pop group.

Simply Red's Mick Hucknall said: "Jeremy Corbyn has much in common with UB40. They are currently as divided as his Labour Party."

The band has found itself riven by acrimony in recent years. Singer Ali Campbell left and joined forces with two other band mates, leading to a bitter battle over use of the group's name.

Mr Corbyn is facing a challenge for control of the party from Owen Smith following a year of turmoil and division, but is on course to comfortably hold on to his job.

Asked what politicians could learn from musicians, Mr Corbyn said: "I think teamwork, supporting each other. Coming together. Being creative together, improving society together, working together.

"That's what bands do. Until they fall out."

Named after a dole claim form, UB40 formed in 1978 and went on to enjoy chart success with a number of songs, including the anti-Thatcher anthem One In 10.

During the unusual press conference in central London, Mr Corbyn chatted with the band about a range of subjects, including how they wrote their songs and whether they enjoyed classical music.

Mr Corbyn praised the band for its support of human rights causes and said it had "inspired" generations.

"What you have done is brought together people of all cultures and backgrounds and that is something that is very important because too many of our people live in poverty," he added.

A spokesman for the band said: "Jeremy's campaign is about bringing people together and reaching out to all sections of society, to build a Labour government and a Labour movement that can rebuild and transform Britain so that no one and no community is left behind."

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