Former Peterborough MP Helen Clark backs Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader

Former Labour MP for Peterborough Helen Clark has thrown her support behind Jeremy Corbyn and warned the Conservatives not to take election victory in the city for granted in 2020.

Friday, 2nd September 2016, 4:35 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd September 2016, 5:36 pm
Helen Clark. Pic: Andrew Parson/PA Wire
Helen Clark. Pic: Andrew Parson/PA Wire

Mrs Clark, who was elected in 1997 as one of the ‘Blair Babes’, believes left-winger Mr Corbyn , who is currently fighting Owen Smith to retain the leadership of the Labour Party, is the “unpretentious, unspun and totally sincere” Prime Minister the country needs.

She said: “We are talking about somebody completely unfussy who prioritises substance over style. He never stood up in the House of Commons because he thought he would get a good write-up in the Guardian or Daily Mail the next day.

“He said it whether it would make him popular or unpopular in the whips’ office.

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“He has got the least ego of anyone I’ve ever met. He’s not in it to spend his time going to jaunts abroad with other leaders, he’s actually in it because he wants to make the world, his constituency and the country the best place for anyone regardless whatever their income is.

“That’s what I want for a Prime Minister.

“On a personal level he is incredibly polite and incredibly courteous. He does not have any of the unattractive arrogance a lot of people are turned off in politicians.

“Jeremy would say hello to anybody and he’s pleasant.

“He’s not a sort of funny person. He takes his politics very very seriously. He is not the sort of person who would be swayed or bought off by people.

“He is unpretentious, unspun and totally sincere, and I would like to congratulate the Peterborough Labour Party on nominating him.”

Mrs Clark defeated Tory Stewart Jackson in 2001 before losing the Peterborough seat to him in 2005.

Mr Jackson remains as the city’s MP after winning re-election in 2010 and 2015.

Former English teacher Mrs Clark, who now lives in Derbyshire, said she is an English examiner for the OCR exam board, associate consultant of Royal Public Affairs and associate editor of the NewJurist international legal magazine.

She also writes for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood.

Mrs Clark commented on the row between Jeremy Corbyn and Virgin Trains about whether he had been forced to sit on the floor due to a lack of available seats.

She said: “I was somebody who was in the Jeremy Corbyn position when I was MP. On one occasion I was forced to sit on the floor in a compartment along with pensioners and children.

“I actually raised the matter at transport questions at the House of Commons. I said it was time to put rail services back in public hands.”

Mrs Clark also paid tribute to Neville Sanders who was leader of Peterborough City Council when she became MP for Peterborough.

And she claimed that Mr Sanders, who passed away last Friday (August 26), had even predicted her fate as an MP years earlier.

She said: “Neville and I were in different political parties and had absolutely totally different political views and outlooks and had a number of disagreements from time to time.

“One thing I would look to put on record was it was never personal. He did not take any unpleasant attitude towards me. He thought I was trying to do the best for the city and I recognised he was trying to do the same.

“Neville was kind enough on a couple of occasions to go to the Peterborough Telegraph and congratulate me for certain things that I had done and say it was good for the city.

“I would like to acknowledge that and say I appreciated it then and appreciate it now. I would like to send my condolences and those of my husband Alan who also knew Neville to his family and his friends and acquaintances and all the people who he served as a councillor in his individual ward and the city as a whole.

“He was kind enough to invite me and my husband to lunch when I became MP. He saw it as courteous. We went round and had a very nice meal cooked by his wife Christine.

“He said ‘you’ve taken office and, you know what, you will win it again this time then we will nab it off you and that’s exactly what happened.

“But I would like to say to the Conservatives do not think it’s permanently in your hands. It’s not a question of never say never or we will write off 2020.

“I’m expecting members in Peterborough to be absolutely working their damnedest from now on and I’m sure that’s what they are doing, campaigning on the important matters like train services.”