Lisa Nandy says Labour has 'moved away from the people'
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Labour is recovering from its local election drubbing in England last week after losing control of a number of councils and its much needed seat of Hartlepool. Many viewed the port town by-election – one of Labour’s only remaining Red Wall seats – as lost even before the ballot was cast. This was after Sir Keir Starmer fielded an ardent Remainer in a seat that voted 70 percent to leave the EU.
Following the defeat he radically uprooted his Shadow Cabinet, sacking a number of high-profile politicians from their positions including Angela Rayner and Anneliese Dodds.
Ahead of the elections, Lisa Nandy, Shadow Foreign Secretary, appeared during a seminar to mark the release of Labour MP Jon Cruddas’ new book, ‘The Dignity of Labour’.
Here, they discussed the future of the party and how it might, or might not, win back its traditional working class voter base, as well as the future of work.
Ms Nandy was asked why the Labour Party has continued to try to win back those Red Wall, working class communities when in recent years, the voters who stayed loyal to the party were the affluent, metropolitan, liberal and young.
She replied: “I believe Labour has got to be the party for those people, I believe we were built for those people, I think we owe those people.
“I’ve never felt that they moved away from us, I felt we moved away from them.
“In December 2019 on the night of the worst election defeat we’ve had when we saw our voter base collapsing in every region of the UK, I made it my mission to bring Labour back to them, and that sums up how I feel about the Labour Party.”
Ms Nandy’s promise did not age well.
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Labour suffered another resounding defeat in England’s local elections following on from the 2019 general election, losing control of a number of councils.
It lost overall control of Durham County Council for the first time in a century, now faced with doing a deal with another party to make up the lost numbers.
A “Green Surge” in Bristol saw the party defeated in the City Council with its main rivals more than doubling their numbers.
In the Wirral heartlands, three seats were lost, with Wirral Council slipping further from the party’s hands than in 2019.
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The Conservatives also stole Pontefract South in Wakefield for the first time in a decade.
Even the Liberal Democrats managed to snatch more than one council seat, achieving a resounding margin in Knottingley.
A similar theme prevailed around the country, including in Scotland.
Only in Wales did Labour make gains and hold on to the Senedd.
It was a different picture in the cities and larger regions where Labour made considerable inlands.
Sadiq Khan secured a second term as London mayor, while Andy Burnham was reelected mayor of Greater Manchester.
Labour also beat the Tories to win the West of England mayoral election, but failed in its attempt to oust Conservative Andy Street as mayor of the West Midlands.
The local council results acted as a catalyst for Sir Keir’s cabinet reshuffle.
Ms Nandy held on to her post as Shadow Foreign Secretary.
Ms Rayner was removed as party chair, and took Rachel Reeves’ job as the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, shadowing Michael Gove at the Cabinet Office.
The Labour leader said he had faith in his “refreshed and renewed team”.
In a statement, he added that Labour “must be the party that embraces the demand for change across our country” and that the new Shadow Cabinet was the right one to tackle the challenges ahead.
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