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Labour should welcome young energy into the party, says Corbyn

Leader says party needs ‘new people’ amid claims of bullying and intimidation by his supporters.

Jeremy Corbyn has urged Labour to welcome “young energy” into the party amid claims his hard left supporters have been intimidating and bullying opponents.

In a speech to Labour councillors, Mr Corbyn said they needed to “embrace” mass participation if they were to reverse years of Conservative austerity.

His intervention comes after the long-standing Labour leader of Haringey Council, Claire Kober, announced she was quitting, complaining of a campaign of “sexism” and “bullying” by Mr Corbyn’s supporters.

Addressing the Labour local government conference in Nottingham, Mr Corbyn urged the party to come together to defeat the Tories.

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“We should welcome new people, fresh ideas, and young energy into our party,” he said.

“It’s a mass participation that we all must embrace, because what our communities are facing is no less than the dismantling of the civilised society we all love.

“It will only be defended if we campaign together – members, councillors and MPs together.”

The Labour leader went on to defend the intervention of the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) in Haringey over the controversial housing development at the centre of the dispute which led to Ms Kober’s resignation.

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In a highly unusual move, the NEC, which is now controlled by his supporters, called for a halt to the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) programme amid criticism of the council’s decision to enter into partnership with a private company.

Mr Corbyn acknowledged that Government cuts meant councils were faced with “appalling choices” and said Haringey believed they were acting in the best interests of residents.

However he added: “But HDV is highly controversial with local people worried about their futures.

“That’s why 40% of Labour councillors opposed the proposals, as did the majority of party members in both CLPs (constituency Labour parties), both Labour MPs, and local unions.

“It has been a unique situation which is why the NEC unanimously asked the council leadership to put their plans on hold and take part in a mediation process to bring everyone together. Because when we bring people together and listen to everyone’s voices we make better decisions.”

Mr Corbyn said the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion and the bailout of the East Coast Mainline franchise had undermined the arguments for privatisation, and he praised Labour councils which were now taking services back in-house.

“We must urgently move on from Tory austerity and the failed privatisation obsession that has allowed services for the many to become cash cows for the few,” he said.

“In the last month the arguments for privatisation – always threadbare and flawed – have now been brutally exposed by events. The whole edifice of the ‘private good, public bad’ dogma has crumbled.”

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