Former SDP leader, and Labour Foreign Secretary, Lord David Owen has said that Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto is better than 1983’s ‘longest suicide note in history’ and has donated to the party.
Lord Owen told South Yorkshire Briefing: “I was prepared not to make a national donation this time around but was pleasantly surprised that the manifesto was a lot better than expected.
“On NATO, the EU and the nuclear deterrent it is streets better than 1983.
“It is certainly far better than that on which the Labour Party fought the election in 1983 and I think it has to be acknowledged that Jeremy Corbyn has shown more flexibility in taking account of Labour MPs and party members’ views than ever Michael Foot did.”
Lord Owen was a Labour dissident in the early 1980s when Michael Foot was leader of the party. He, along with Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams and Bill Rodgers left the party in 1981 to start the Social Democratic Party.
At their peak, the SDP had 28 MPs. Lord Owen was later leader between 1983 and 1990.
He stood down from Parliament as MP for Plymouth Devonport in 1992.
“I think there are grounds for thinking the credibility of Labour in opposition will improve over the next few years…”
He has donated nationally to the Labour Party, but at a lower amount than his £10,000 donation in 2015. He has also donated to Luke Pollard, the Labour candidate in his former seat.
Pollard lost the election in 2015 by 523 votes.
The independent peer, who was the youngest Foreign Secretary in 40 years, did say that the manifesto wasn’t as strong on economic policy. He said: “Even on economic issues there is an improvement – but it is not an economic manifesto which meets the needs of the British economy during and after the Brexit negotiations.”
Despite his backing for the party’s manifesto, Lord Owen does not believe that Labour are on the cusp of power. “You cannot explain away the persistent Conservative lead.” he said.
“I do think it is very important that there is a credible official opposition to the Conservatives and therefore I hope sensible Labour candidates are elected”
He backed Corbyn’s Labour to improve, saying: “I think there are grounds for thinking the credibility of Labour in opposition will improve over the next few years which is strongly in the national interest.”