JEREMY CORBYN tried to use the Manchester Bombing as a way to boost his chances of becoming Prime Minister a new book has claimed.
When the Manchester Arena bomb exploded on May 22, killing 22 innocent people and injuring 250, Jeremy Corbyn tried to use the atrocity as an Election event.
Inside the Labour leader’s office they were frantic. It was agreed that Corbyn should go to Manchester, and the leader’s office called Andy Burnham, the city’s newly elected Labour mayor.
According to those involved, Andy Burnham became angered by the ‘constant’ calls at a time when he had a major attack to deal with, writes Tim Ross and Tom McTague in their book examining this year’s General Election.
By the following morning, the mayor was only too aware of the horrific scale of what had happened. Hosting Corbyn was not at the top of his list of priorities.
‘There was a feeling that some people saw it as part of the General Election campaign and that was something we just didn’t want to deal with at that time,’ says one Manchester Labour source.
Burnham, along with Manchester Council leader Richard Leese and Lucy Powell, the Labour candidate for Manchester Central, wanted Corbyn to delay coming to the city until the following day.
But the leader’s office insisted he must visit immediately, and the tension between Labour officials in Manchester and Corbyn’s aides soon escalated into open confrontation.
Corbyn’s office wanted him to do a TV clip from St Peter’s Square, behind the Town Hall, surrounded by Labour parliamentary candidates. His aides also stipulated that the emergency services’ first responders must be there too.
The proposal shocked Labour’s Manchester contingent. ‘It was completely inappropriate to have a photo-op with the first responders to a terrorist attack literally the day after it had taken place,’ says one source.
‘Some of these first responders were deeply affected by what they had seen or what their friends had seen, and many of them were still immensely busy.’
Corbyn’s office was told: ‘Absolutely no way.’ A host of other options were then presented by his aides – but all of them were vetoed by Burnham’s team.
Another Labour source says: ‘Their first concern was how can they make sure Jeremy is involved and “owns it”.’
Aides wanted Corbyn to be on TV surrounded by 999 crews.
Corbyn’s aides say discussions were had with the unions and the emergency services about when and how to meet, and meetings subsequently took place in private, but that while the Labour leader wanted to thank emergency-service workers, there was no suggestion of ‘a public statement with candidates’.
A vigil was held in the evening in Albert Square – Burnham and Leese ensured politics did not encroach on the sombre event.