Shadow minister visits to boost support for Kendall

Shadow minister Tristram Hunt meets members of the Labour Party at Ipswich Labour Club, Silent Stree

Shadow minister Tristram Hunt meets members of the Labour Party at Ipswich Labour Club, Silent Street

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has become the latest high-profile Labour visitor to Ipswich in a bid to boost one of the candidates in the party’s leadership campaign.

Mr Hunt is a supporter of Liz Kendall, seen as the most Blairite of the candidates – and the one who is lagging in the race, according to pollsters and bookies.

He met about 20 members of the party at a meeting in Ipswich – and issued a stern warning about returning to the 1980s when, he said, the party proved to be unelectable, spending a total of 18 years in opposition.

Mr Hunt accepted that Ms Kendall was trailing in the race – which appears to be led by left-winger Jeremy Corbyn – but said it was vital that party members consider the consequences before casting their vote.

He said: “If you look at all the last Labour Government achieved – the improvement in schools, increases in welfare support, the opening of Sure Start centres – you have to realise that you can only get those kind of things if you have a Labour Government.

“If Labour is not seen as a credible party of Government, policy decisions are left up to the Tories.

“And it is the Tories that we need to look at. They’re the alternative Government.

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“In seats like Ipswich and Bedford we didn’t lose because of the Greens or because of TUSC [the left-wing socialist group]. We lost votes to the Conservatives.”

The first ballot papers in the leadership election dropped on the doorsteps of Labour Party members on Monday morning.

They have until September 10 to get them back to Labour headquarters and the result will be declared on September 12.

The number of people qualified to vote in the election has gone up to 610,000 – more than treble the 200,000 membership of the party at the time of the General Election.

Mr Corbyn is now the favourite to win from Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, with Ms Kendall consistently coming in fourth place in polls.