VETERAN Scottish Labour politician Tam Dalyell has given his backing to Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to become the next leader of the party.

The ex-MP and father of the House of Commons endorsed the MP for Islington North’s campaign during an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival yesterday.

He is the first former Scottish MP to do so, and his backing comes after a string of attacks on the anti-austerity candidate including from former Labour Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

Dalyell said he had worked closely with Corbyn in the past on issues including their opposition to the Iraq war and described him as “a listener” who would bring “a whole lot of young people” into the Labour Party.

In conversation with broadcaster James Naughtie, he said: “I would give Jeremy Corbyn a chance. I will be voting for him.

“Before you dismiss him, just consider this fact. In 1983 he held a majority of 4,000-plus, in 2015 it was 21,000-plus. Doesn’t that tell you something?”

Corbyn has become the frontrunner ahead of fellow candidates Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in the battle to succeed Ed Miliband, who Dalyell described as “appalling”.

He emphasised the election was for a leader of the opposition, describing Corbyn only as “a possible alternative prime minister”.

He added: “He might well at the age of 68, because he’s that type of a person, say ‘alright I’ve done what’s good for the party, we’ll leave it to somebody else’.

“The somebody else would not be Ms Cooper, would not be Ms Kendall and would not be Mr Burnham. Possibly Dan Jarvis, but there are a number of other names.”

Dalyell first posed the West Lothian Question in 1977, on whether non-English MPs should be able to vote on matters that affect only England post-devolution, when English MPs do not have a vote on matters that have been devolved.

The UK Government has set out plans for English votes for English laws, known as Evel, after sweeping new powers were promised to Holyrood in the wake of last year’s Scottish independence referendum.

In a separate development yesterday, press baron Rupert Murdoch predicted Corbyn would win the contest.

“Corbyn increasingly likely Labor [sic] winner. Seems only candidate who believes anything, right or wrong,” he tweeted yesterday.

Murdoch has repeatedly backed the Conservative party in UK elections, as have his papers the Times and the Sun, which he owns through News UK. But he has also been a critic of Cameron, especially in the run-up to the general election in May when it was predicted the Tories would not win a majority.

Writing in the New Statesman yesterday, Corbyn hit back at the “scurrilous nature of some of the tabloid-style attacks on me and other candidates” which he said had been painful.

He added: “For my own part, I have not engaged in any personal attacks or abuse. We should debate policies, not personalities. I have ensured that this message has repeatedly been issued through social media by my campaign.”

The politician also insisted that he would be able to unify different factions within the party.