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No place for abuse in the Labour Party insists Jeremy Corbyn

Published 23/07/2016

Jeremy Corbyn will launch his Labour leadership campaign in Manchester
Jeremy Corbyn will launch his Labour leadership campaign in Manchester

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted there is no place for abuse in the Labour Party, after 44 women MPs wrote to him to urge him to take action over the bullying and intimidation they faced.

At a leadership rally in Salford, Mr Corbyn acknowledged that people were "angry" at the actions of MPs who had sought to oust him from the leadership, but said that they should settle their differences by "democratic" means.

Speaking from the same platform, his close ally, shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, hit back at the MPs, warning them that they needed to show "respect" to ordinary party members.

He compared the portrayal of Mr Corbyn's supporters with the way striking miners had been "demonised" in the 1980s.

"I am not, and others are not, going to stand by and see every single one of you portrayed as the striking miners were, as thugs, brick-throwers, bullies and misogynists," he said to cheers from the packed audience at the Lowry Theatre.

"It is vitally important that we respect each other with our different views, as we do. But I tell you this, MPs need to respect party members as well.

"MPs shouldn't be abused by members of the Labour Party or those who appear to be members of the Labour Party. But honest, decent Labour Party members - the people who made all of these other people MPs - should not be abused or badly treated by MPs."

He praised the new members who had been inspired to join the party as a result of Mr Corbyn's leadership.

"These are not bad people, these are good people. We should be proud of them and I say welcome to the Labour Party," he said.

His comments are likely to inflame the tensions within the party after Mr Corbyn faced an overwhelming vote of no confidence by MPs, and a mass walk-out by the shadow cabinet, in the wake of last month's EU referendum vote.

Mr Corbyn, who is now facing a leadership challenge from former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith, urged his followers to remain disciplined.

"We have to be very disciplined. As I have made it very, very clear many times before, I don't do any personal abuse of anybody at any time. None of that has any place in our party or our movement," he said.

"I know people are angry about actions that have been taken but where we have disagreement in our party we settle it through democratic means - no coups, no intimidation, no abuse."

His comments came after 44 women Labour MPs wrote to him in a letter organised by backbencher Paula Sherriff complaining about his "inadequate" response to the abuse.

"Rape threats, death threats, smashed cars and bricks through windows are disgusting and totally unacceptable in any situation," they wrote.

"This is acknowledged by all factions, yet the simple words of condemnation offered in response are inadequate. We expect swift and tangible action against those who commit such acts."

Speaking under the slogan "People powered politics", Mr Corbyn sought to rally his supporters with a call for a new wave of grassroots activism to propel the party to victory at the next general election.

He said it was a mistake to believe that it was solely what took place in Parliament that was important when it came to achieving change.

"We are a social movement and we will only win the next general election because we are that movement of people all around the country," he said.

"What happens in Parliament is very, very important - that is why many of us have sought office in Parliament in order to effect those changes - but changes come because people want those changes to come."

He said it was essential that the party learned the lessons of the general election defeats of 2010 and 2015 if it was to succeed next time.

"That tells me something. We cannot go on as we were before. We have to and we will do politics, do economics, do social justice, differently," he said.

"We have become a mass party and a mass organisation. Electoral success is never a given, it is hard work.

"I don't underestimate the mountain we have to climb to win a general election, which is why this leadership election is also about building the technology, the ideas, the campaigning skills and the inclusive way we do things, into a movement that can and will win a general election."

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