Lancaster MP Cat Smith ‘delighted’ by Jeremy Corbyn appointment

Jeremy Corbyn (centre) prepares to take to the stage after he was announced as the Labour Party's new leader at a special conference at the QEII Centre in London, as defeated candidate Andy Burnham (right) applauds. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Jeremy Corbyn (centre) prepares to take to the stage after he was announced as the Labour Party's new leader at a special conference at the QEII Centre in London, as defeated candidate Andy Burnham (right) applauds. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Lancaster MP Cat Smith said she was delighted to be part of “a new kind of politics” after it was revealed she was one of just 20 Labour MPs to vote for the party’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn.

North London MP Mr Corbyn was elected on Saturday with a massive 59.5 per cent of first preference votes, beating rivals Andy Burnham, who received 19 per cent, Yvette Cooper with 17 per cent and Liz Kendall with 4.5 per cent.

Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Ms Smith said: “The Labour party’s leadership election was a historic moment when we saw the initial outsider win the leadership with a huge mandate on a landslide result – with almost 60 per cent of votes, more support than any other leader in the past.

“I’m delighted to say a record number of local people took part in this ballot as the membership of the Lancaster and Fleetwood Labour Party is now at record levels. We welcome all new local members and supporters.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s first actions as leader – to attend a rally supporting refugees and a mental health awareness event – indicate the direction and priorities of his leadership.

“This will be a new kind of politics which I’m delighted to be playing a part in.”

Ms Smith said the low vote for the new leader among her fellow party members was unlikely to cause problems.

“At the meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday night there was a real sense of pulling together from amongst colleagues,” she said.

“Given the scale of the result it’s not surprising that no one challenged it.

“The shadow cabinet which Jeremy Corbyn has put together, using talent from many strands of Labour opinion, reflects his wish for the party to unite and do its role as the official opposition – holding the government to account.

While Ms Smith’s name was mooted among those thought to be in the running for a place on Mr Corbyn’s new shadow cabinet, the MP said she happy to concentrate her efforts on local matters.

She added: “I’m finding these first few months to be valuable time for getting stuck in with local issues and working hard for the people in Lancaster and Fleetwood.

“I always said my priority was being a good constituency MP and the local community always comes first.”

Meanwhile, local Labour councillors have also reacted to the appointment of Mr Corbyn as their party’s new leader.

Lancaster City Council leader Eileen Blamire admitted she voted for Yvette Cooper but said she was happy to give Mr Corbyn a chance to prove himself.

“He was elected with a large mandate and you can’t argue with that,” she said. “It’s now a case of wait and see and I think we will see quite quickly how it’s going.

“I think [Corbyn] is a genuine person but I voted for Yvette because I wanted to see a woman in that position. I also voted for a woman for the deputy leader position.

“I think it’s a shame that there are no women in those positions.”

Skerton West councillor Rob Devey, who voted for Andy Burnham, said: “Jeremy Corbyn has already inspired more local people to get involved in politics and we had a number of new faces at this week’s Skerton Labour Party meeting.

“He offers a different and refreshing style of leadership and a commitment to investment and job creation that I hope will resonate with the wider public and businesses.

“With Jeremy we have a genuine alternative to the Tory cuts which have really hurt many ordinary families and vulnerable people, and which have meant our recovery from the global economic crisis has been the slowest since records began.”

Scotforth East councillor James Leyshon said: “Whilst I didn’t vote for Jeremy in the end, instead I opted for Yvette Cooper, I was heartened by the energy and the engagement which was brought about by his campaign.

“I think regardless of who members and supporters voted for in the election we must all now turn our attention to providing a unified and coherent opposition, continue working locally to protect services and our residents and ensure we’re ready to take the fight to the real enemies – the Tories in 2020!”

Harbour ward councillor Darren Clifford admitted that although he also voted for Andy Burnham, Mr Corbyn’s campaign had been more organised and energised.

He said: “Andy Burnham shares the same sort of values that I have got. He has probably got a wider appeal to non-Labour voters.

“But at the end of it the answer has been very clear. We have now got a new leader and the team he has put together is an interesting one which won’t always agree with him.

“We have got to give him a go and see how he performs.

“There are a number of issues I disagree with him on, but others I think he is spot on about.”

Heysham North councillor Margaret Pattison is firmly in the Corbyn camp, however.

She said: “I am absolutely over the moon. Previously there was no divide between the Labour party and the Conservatives and that was what people were telling us. They said we were all the same.

“I think he will do really well now he has the chance to shine and make that big divide vbetween the parties.”

Harbour ward councillor Janice Hanson voted for Yvette Cooper, preferring to see a woman in charge.

She said: “I think the result took us all by surprise.

“I didn’t personally vote for [Corbyn] but now he is in place we have got to make the best of it.

“He is our leader so we will see how it goes. I do not agree with all his views but some of them I do and we just have to hope he can give this government a real going over and hold them to account because we haven’t had that lately.”