NI Labour chair hits back at Blood criticism of Corbyn

Baroness May Blood has met Jeremy Corbyn once and said she 'didn't think much of him'
Baroness May Blood has met Jeremy Corbyn once and said she 'didn't think much of him'

The chair of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland has said she is “disappointed” at disparaging remarks made by Baroness May Blood regarding Jeremy Corbyn.

In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Talkback’s William Crawley, Baroness Blood accused the Labour leader of “helping to destroy” the party.

The Labour peer from Belfast also criticised Mr Corbyn for not allowing members in Northern Ireland to stand for election.

Baroness Blood, who is the president of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI), said: “When you raise issues pertaining to Northern Ireland, you can almost see red mist coming down.”

Baroness Blood said she has met the Labour leader just once, but added that she “didn’t think much of him”.

“He may be a good, decent man, but personally I believe he’s helping to destroy the Labour party, and that would be a sad day for this country,” she added.

The life-long trade unionist said she believes the Labour Party is becoming a “victim of itself”.

“Even before Corbyn it was all about whether you were a Blair-ite, a Brown-ite, whatever-ite, tearing each other apart,” she said.

“They deserve what happened to them but we’ve got to pull ourselves back.

“If Theresa May was to call a snap election, which is very possible next year, Labour would really have a lot of work to do.”

Asked about the LPNI’s future, the 76-year-old said: “Jeremy Corbyn will slowly come to realise we’ve got to be recognised.

“If we were able to put people up for Belfast City Hall (council elections), that would at least be a breakthrough where people are putting real ideas forward, rather than old mantras of: ‘Here’s the flag, vote for us,’” she added.

Anna McAleavy, chair of the LPNI, told the News Letter that she was “disappointed” by Baroness Blood’s position on Mr Corbyn.

She added: “We have had a huge influx of members since Mr Corbyn became leader, from about 300 a couple of years ago to just under 3000 now.

“Many of these people have cited their support for Mr Corbyn as their reason for joining, so Baroness Blood’s position is certainly not in line with the feeling on the ground.”

However, Ms McAleavy added: “This was very much a personal interview given by Baroness Blood and at no stage did she indicate that she was speaking on behalf of the Labour Party.”

She also said she was “pleased” with the peer’s remarks about members in NI having a right to stand in elections.

People in Northern Ireland have been able to join the party since 2003, but they cannot run for election.