Despite backing different horses in the Labour leadership race the party will now unite to fight Tories insist Stevenage’s top two

They may have been backing opposite sides in the Labour leadership contest but Stevenage Borough Cou

They may have been backing opposite sides in the Labour leadership contest but Stevenage Borough Council's leader and deputy leader have called for the party to unite to fight the Tories. - Credit: Archant

It’s time for the Labour Party to heal its divisions and get behind its new leader so it can mount an effective opposition to the Tories.

That’s the message from Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor and deputy leader John Gardner, despite being in opposite camps in the recent leadership contest.

Whilst a seemingly amicable contest locally compared to a bitter fight at national level, Mr Gardner backed Jeremy Corbyn and Mrs Taylor declared openly her support for Owen Smith.

Their views reflected a ballot held by Stevenage Labour Party before the official vote which resulted in a 46 to 50 victory for Owen Smith.

Speaking from the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Mrs Taylor said: “We’re a democratic party and we’ve elected our leader.

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“It’s not the candidate we supported but that’s what elections are all about.

“The challenge for Jeremy Corbyn now is to bring the party together and develop a vision and a policy agenda so we can be ready to fight the next election.”

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Mr Gardner echoed the sentiment but criticised the challenge to Mr Corbyn adding: “The majority of people who voted felt a leadership campaign and a challenge after a year wasn’t a good use of resources and was a distraction from keeping up a challenge against the Tories.

“Clearly we want a unified response to the Tories and the Parliamentary Labour Party needs to look back on itself and think whether it has used its energies in the right way.

“It needs to get back to what they’ve been elected to do which is to provide a strong opposition and alternative policies.”

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