Wales politics

Owen Smith: Jeremy Corbyn won 'decisive' victory

Owen Smith congratulates Jeremy Corbyn after the election result was announced Image copyright PA
Image caption Owen Smith congratulates Jeremy Corbyn after the election result was announced

Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith has congratulated his opponent Jeremy Corbyn, saying he won a decisive victory.

Mr Corbyn has won his bid to retain the Labour leadership, defeating the Pontypridd MP.

The Labour leader received 61.8% of the vote - a larger margin than 12 months ago.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said Labour now had to work hard to offer the UK the opposition it had been "denied".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionOwen Smith said Mr Corbyn must now focus on winning back the trust of the electorate

Mr Smith said: "There is no doubt that the Labour Party has changed under his [Corbyn's] leadership, he has mobilised huge numbers of people over the last 12 months, many of whom are here at conference in Liverpool, and he deserves the credit for that, and for winning this contest so decisively.

"I have no time for talk of a split in the Labour movement - it's Labour or nothing for me... although today's result shows that our movement remains divided, it now falls primarily to Jeremy Corbyn, as Labour leader, to heal those divisions and to unite our movement."

Welsh Labour leader Mr Jones offered his congratulations to Mr Corbyn along with his "commiserations" to Mr Smith, who he said fought a "good campaign".

But he added: "This has not been a happy period for the Labour Party, the country has been denied the functional and forensic opposition they have a right to expect in Westminster, and we must work hard now to put that right."

But former Labour cabinet minister Lord Peter Hain said: "The party has to make the best of the predicament we are in.

"I hope all Jeremy's supporters actually get out there and campaign because where I worked in south Wales, in both the assembly elections and the referendum they were nowhere to be seen."

Mike Hedges, Swansea East AM and a supporter of Mr Corbyn, told BBC Radio Wales the result tells the Parliamentary Labour Party "loudly and clearly that Jeremy Corbyn has the overwhelming support of the membership", which he said "should stop another leadership campaign next year or the year after".

Shadow Welsh Secretary Paul Flynn said Labour's "gap year from reality is over", adding: "We must bury futile infighting and unite to defend the NHS, the welfare services and universal education that we created."

'The onus is on Jeremy'

Caerphilly MP and Corbyn-critic Wayne David, who had resigned from the Labour frontbench before the challenge by Mr Smith, did not think the result had changed anything.

"The onus is on Jeremy now. He has a fresh mandate. He has to make real his words," he said.

He added if Mr Corbyn had a desire to make a team he would be "more than happy to work for him" but added "that does not necessarily mean I would go on the front bench".

Former shadow Welsh Secretary Nia Griffith called for "people from all parts of the party to take part and really participate in making the Labour party work properly".

On Friday, Ms Griffith indicated she would be willing serve in a shadow cabinet under Mr Corbyn, three months after quitting the shadow cabinet.

Cardiff councillor Darren Williams, a Corbyn supporting member of the ruling National Executive Committee, said "the whole party in Wales has to get behind" Mr Corbyn "and make sure that we turn outward and take the fight to the Tories".

Recently Labour made changes that would give the Welsh party more control of its own affairs.

Mr Williams welcomed the move but said: "I hope there won't be an attempt by Welsh Labour to isolate itself from the positive things that Jeremy represents at the British level."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks after being announced as the winner of the party's leadership contest

The result comes after a tumultuous summer for Labour following the Brexit vote and months of tension between the leadership and the party's MPs.

Following criticism of Mr Corbyn's alleged "lacklustre" campaigning in the referendum, many Labour shadow cabinet members resigned.

Mr Corbyn then lost a confidence vote and in July Mr Smith challenged the Labour leader for the top job.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Conservatives said: "Jeremy Corbyn's re-election is merely another chapter in the protracted saga of the Labour party's decline."

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: "The chaos and infighting engulfing the Labour Party as well as the proposed boundary changes mean that the party is unlikely to win a Westminster election for at least a decade, possibly even longer."

More on this story