Jeremy Corbyn: More power to grassroots

By Daniel Boffey, Toby Helm

Owen Smith, left, and Jeremy Corbyn before the announcement of the winner in the Labour leadership contest. Photo / AP
Owen Smith, left, and Jeremy Corbyn before the announcement of the winner in the Labour leadership contest. Photo / AP

Atriumphant Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to reward Labour's mass membership with more power over the running of the party, after he inflicted a thumping defeat on leadership challenger Owen Smith.

Corbyn, who secured almost 62 per cent of the vote - an even bigger mandate than a year ago - said that his victory was a personal "vindication" that had increased his power and authority to create a mass democratic movement from the grassroots upwards. Smith secured 38 per cent of the 506,438 votes cast.

Setting out his plans for phase two of his leadership after a year of bitter disputes with his MPs, Corbyn said: "I have been given the authority by the members and that is what I intend to deliver on."

While he insisted he would now "wipe the slate clean" and offer a way back for rebel MPs who had plotted to remove him, he made it clear that it was ordinary members - his power base in the party - who now had to be given a greater say in a remodelled Labour Party.

"The participation is even higher, and my majority is bigger, and the mandate is very strong. So let's use it to reach out. With this huge membership, that has to be reflected much more in decision-making in the party."

Corbyn made it clear that with a current total of well over 600,000 members, the grassroots needed far greater representation on key bodies, such as the national executive committee. "I recognise that to be successful, the party has to reach out to all sections and I will do that," he said. But he added that MPs and others had to understand "that we have this enormous party membership they are the people that raise the money, knock on doors, deliver the leaflets, do the campaigning work".

Any hope that this second Corbyn victory in a year would tempt senior figures who quit the shadow cabinet back into the fold were dashed as several said they would return only if the leader allowed MPs to choose most of the members of his shadow cabinet. Corbyn said the issue of shadow cabinet election was open for discussion but refused to commit to the demands, saying it was part of a wider debate about how to increase democracy in the party.

- Observer

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