'I'm sorry' - Barrow MP John Woodcock issues grovelling apology and admits he 'misjudged' Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
BARROW MP John Woodcock has admitted he "got it totally wrong" about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and has apologised for "two years of pitched battles and bad blood".
In a frank and lengthy email sent to local Labour members, the Barrow and Furness MP, who narrowly retained his seat in Barrow with a majority of just 209 votes, issues an apology and says Jeremy Corbyn has "earned the right to lead" the party following last week's general election.
In the email, sent out today, Mr Woodcock apologised for being unable to attend a local party meeting due to take place tomorrow, and said: "I never ever thought I would say this, but we would not have got over the line without the way Jeremy Corbyn inspired young people and some former non-voters to get active and vote Labour."
Mr Woodcock's previously acrimonious relationship with Mr Corbyn had caused divisions within his local party membership, with some calling for him to step down if he would not back their leader.
Listing a number of reason’s contributing to his victory, Mr Woodcock added: “The fourth major factor may seem at first glance to contradict what I have said about Jeremy. Yet the truth is that just as we could not have won without the people inspired to vote Labour by Jeremy’s surge, nor could we have won without the people who were reassured to vote Labour by my strident position on Trident and the leadership.”
“Anyone who came out on the doorstep in Barrow will have seen what a massive issue Jeremy’s lifelong position on Trident and several other issues was locally.
“Some of you will say I should just have pointed to the manifesto commitment and stayed loyal, but that simply would not have been enough. The Tories would have pounded us, casting doubt on it day after day using Jeremy’s historic views and even some of the things he said on the campaign trail about a defence review.”
However, it appears the Barrow MP is now keen to wipe the slate clean and has admitted he should have believed local Labour members.
"It is fair to say I completely and utterly misjudged his ability to inspire many people," Mr Woodcock wrote about Mr Corbyn in the email.
"Many local members have been telling me for years that they signed up because of him and that he would inspire others to vote Labour for the first time. I didn't believe it could be done. I was totally wrong and you were right, and I am sorry I didn't believe you."
Mr Woodcock vowed that from now on "things will feel very different from the last two years, which have been pretty miserable for all concerned".
He added: "There will be things with which I disagree with Jeremy in future, this is the Labour Party after all.
"Sometimes even perhaps to the point of not being able to vote with him in the Commons (just as he on occasion did not vote with past Labour governments and can't bring himself to vote for the party’s Trident position because he fundamentally disagrees with it).
"But you have my word that I will approach any such difficult issues in a constructive, collegiate way. The pitched battles and bad blood that have marred the last two years are over.
"Just as I hope I have earned some space to concentrate on standing up for local people and services, so Jeremy has earned the right to lead without further instability."