A group of former politicians from Britain’s opposition Labour Party have called for “fundamental change” within their party’s leadership.
The comments follow a parliamentary election earlier this month that gave Labour its worst defeat since 1935 and made pro-Brexit Prime Minister Boris Johnson the most electorally successful leader of the Conservative Party since Margaret Thatcher.
In a letter published in The Observer newspaper on Sunday, the 11-strong group of former Labour legislators and candidates called for an “unflinching” review of the party’s failed campaign.
The group blamed Labour’s lack of popularity with voters on “nationalization and uncontrolled spending commitments,” as well as “cronyism at the top of our party” and a “repeated unwillingness to stand up to the stain of anti-Semitism.”
The letter highlighted the party’s loss of seats “in every region…with the biggest swing against us from the poorest people.”
In order to regain Labour’s popularity, the group said “fundamental change at the top of our party is required. Only this will help us recover from the catastrophic loss of 12 December.”
The group behind the letter joined a growing chorus of voices of both current and former party representatives calling for the removal of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
In the wake of the election, former Labour prime minister Tony Blair placed the blame for the loss firmly at Corbyn’s feet, saying he had pursued a policy of “almost comic indecision” on Brexit that alienated voters on both sides of the debate.
Several days later, former home secretary Alan Johnson lambasted Corbyn in an op-ed published by the Daily Mail, calling for his immediate resignation and accusing him and his supporters of being “more concerned with ideological purism than winning elections.”
Politicians vying to replace Corbyn as party leader are expected to announce their candidacies in the new year. He has agreed to step down when a new leader is chosen.
Jewish groups have accused Corbyn of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of his party, once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.
Much of the fear of Corbyn was spurred by revelations about his past record that have emerged since he became Labour leader. These include him describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”; defending an anti-Semitic mural in East London; and a seeming willingness to associate with alleged anti-Semites, terrorists, and Holocaust-deniers.