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‘Charisma doesn’t matter, I’m voting for Corbyn’, says Labour mayor candidate

‘Charisma doesn’t matter, I’m voting for Corbyn’, says Labour mayor candidate

🕔12.Jul 2016

Labour West Midlands metro mayor contender Steve Bedser is backing Jeremy Corbyn to continue as party leader and says it doesn’t matter that he has no charisma as long as his values are in the right place.

Mr Bedser said he would be voting for Mr Corbyn rather than Angela Eagle in the leadership contest because he has been in charge for less than a year and deserves more time to prove himself.

However, the former Birmingham city council cabinet member laced his support with plenty of conditions.

He wants Mr Corbyn to agree a rule change so that the leader of the party will not automatically appear on the ballot paper in the event of a challenge – although that could not happen until next year following approval by the Labour conference, leaving a question mark over whether Mr Corbyn needs to be nominated to contest the current challenge by Ms Eagle.

Mr Bedser said it was “ridiculous” to believe the party leader would have any credibility if he could not obtain the support of at least 35 MPs and MEPs to get on the ballot paper. He added:

I am calling on Jeremy to bring forward the necessary constitutional changes to annual conference so that these rules are set in place for next year.

If Jeremy has the courage to make that one gesture of conciliation, it will be an act of leadership that everyone should admire. It will be the clearest possible articulation of the sincerity of his motives and his longer term ambition for our party.

And then he needs to go on and demonstrate, beyond all doubt, that he is a socialist who knows the difference between opposition and power. The people we all claim to serve deserve nothing less.

He also says his support for Mr Corbyn is dependent on Labour picking up support in local elections and “his ability to mend fences and build bridges”.

Mr Bedser is running against Labour MEP Siôn Simon to be the party’s candidate to contest the first West Midlands metro mayor elections next May.

A health sector consultant, Mr Bedser said in a message posted on Twitter that he earns his living “working with leaders” and is “of the view that good leadership is rarely about individuals, it’s about healthy self-confident collectives”. He continues:

People accuse Jeremy of not being charismatic enough, but I say that doesn’t matter. I want the leader of our party to be about values, not celebrity.

Labour is in danger of “being broken up” and the party faces two choices, Mr Bedser adds. Either “throw it on the rubbish heap or give it time to heal”.

He says there is “no prospect” of Theresa May calling a snap General Election when she becomes prime minister and that will give Labour “breathing space” to solve its leadership difficulties and “take on the Tories in a way that could see us win in 2020”.

He concludes his message:

Jeremy, you have my vote, but my expectations are high. Mend our party and make good use of the next twelve months to give all of us confidence that you can lead our country.

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