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  1. ITV Report

Veteran MP Paul Flynn calls for Labour unity

Paul Flynn last spoke at a Labour conference in 1981 -and first campaigned for Labour in 1945 Photo: PA

Paul Flynn, the 81 year old who replaced two other Welsh MPs during the mass resignation from the Shadow Cabinet, says there must be a way for Jeremy Corbyn's opponents to return to the front bench "with dignity and respect".

Mr Flynn is both Shadow Welsh Secretary and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. He used his first Labour party conference speech since 1981 to disagree with Unite boss Len McCluskey's suggestion that the Labour leader's critics should "depart the field".

Len McCluskey made a speech for unity yesterday but there is one phrase in it - the one that he stole from Shakespeare - that I must disagree with, because he did say 'some should depart the field'.

No, no, no.

We've got some of our best people sitting on the subs bench, you don't score goals from the subs bench.

Some resigned, they all did for honourable reasons. It took courage for many of them to resign, it's going to take greater courage for many of them to come back and we must make it possible for them to return with dignity and respect.

– Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West

Mr Flynn added that Labour's "gap year of negativity" must end.

It seemed at times a competition to see who could be the most pessimistic about our future and our prospects - we've got to end that.

It's time to now to give unity a chance. Take all the bile and the hatred together, put it in a box, bury it deep underground, put six feet of concrete on top and then put a sign saying 'never should the last 12 months be unearthed from its dishonest grave'.

– Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West

Mr Flynn, who's been MP for Newport West since 1987, thanked Jeremy Corbyn for his "job creation scheme for geriatrics". He replaced Llanelli MP Nia Griffith as Shadow Welsh Secretary and Rhondda MP Chris Bryant as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. Ms Griffith has said that she is now prepared to return to the front bench.

Mr Flynn recalled handing out Labour leaflets as a 10 year old in Cardiff South in the 1945 General Election. His mother told him that a candidate with an Irish name would never win a Welsh seat but the candidate, the future Prime Minister James Callaghan, proved her wrong -and so subsequently did Paul Flynn himself.

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