Labour grandee Margaret Beckett says factions of Jeremy Corbyn supporters are happy to see party split

 
James Nickerson
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The Labour Party Autumn Conference 2015 - Day 1
Beckett said that the Conservatives will "wreck" people's lives if there is a split (Source: Getty)

A Labour grandee has said that some elements supporting Jeremy Corbyn would be happy to see the Labour party split after the leadership election.

Margaret Beckett has said that a number of people joining the Labour party are joining to support Jeremy Corbyn in a kind of "members club", rather than because they support the party.

"Vast numbers of those people do no want to be in the Labour party, they want to support Jeremy," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

When asked if the party could split, Beckett said: "That is a great fear for people who actually are Labour party people and who want to see a new government to the present government, with a very different approach and values.

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"Some people around Jeremy are perfectly happy for that to happen. I've got no idea what they think is going to happen in future or if they don't care what happens in parliament.

"Do they imagine when they talk about deselecting a whole lot of MPs that they are going to get a couple of hundred members in Labour of potential Labour [politicians] in parliament who are different to the ones now and that they prefer? Do they imagine the electorate are going to be happy with that and that will mean that we have the same amount of success? Or do they not care what happens to the party in parliament?"

The Derby South MP added this is about presenting an alternative to the present government, "which otherwise it will be set free to wreck people's lives, as I fear that they will".

"I do not want to see the Labour party split. I rather doubt that most of the parliamentary party want, or membership, actually want to see a split, not least because we've been there and done that and gave Thatcher unfettered power for a long time."

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The most recent polling puts Corbyn overwhelmingly ahead of contender Owen Smith, with bookies also fancying the incumbent.

The fallout stems from Labour MPs' lack of confidence in their leader following what was widely considered a lacklustre EU referendum campaign. Others are scared that he'd stand no chance in a general election and is not providing effective opposition to the government.

Ballot papers are set to be sent out on 22 August, with the result scheduled for 24 September.

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