Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Lisa Nandy’s hopes for stronger party shattered as Labour yet to ‘hit rock bottom’

Lisa Nandy says Labour has 'moved away from the people'

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The Labour Party can expect worse things to come as it has not yet “hit rock bottom”, Express.co.uk was told. It comes as a new poll found the party trailing behind the Conservatives by 18 points. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s candidates in councils across England enjoyed a resurgence in popularity to the detriment of Sir Keir Starmer in the May elections.

Here, Labour lost control over countless councils, and faced defeat at the Hartlepool by-election, the seat turning blue for the first time since its creation in 1974.

While many MPs and Labour top brass were hopeful that the elections would inspire some energy in the party, many predicted another drubbing at the polls.

Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and MP for Wigan, admitted that Labour was facing a hammering in its heartlands.

However, she told Times Radio she was hopeful, and that voters had noticed the party was “under new management and appreciate it”, hinting that whatever the result, it could be the start of Labour’s comeback in England.

Others are less sure.

Richard Wyn Jones, a political scientist, argues that Labour has not yet hit its roughest patch.

He said the Pandora’s box that opened during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – the emergence of distinct identity and personality politics – has left Labour scarred deep enough that “rock bottom” remains a long way off.

Prof Wyn Jones Express.co.uk: “My view is that part of the psychodrama of Labour and this focus on personalities and tensions is that the Labour Party still doesn’t know what’s hit it.

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“It is still reeling, still worried, rightly, that it hasn’t hit rock bottom yet.

“It doesn’t even have a road map back to power.

“So I think that a lot of this personality politics and machinations, it’s a kind of displacement activity.

“I generally don’t think they know what’s hit them, and they don’t know what to do, and this is all in England.”

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When asked whether he believed the party could regroup before the next election, Prof Wyn Jones said: “We don’t know when the next election is going to be, and if it’s as scheduled it’s a long way away.

“Anybody who predicts anything about British politics after the last five or six years is braver than I am, but I certainly feel at the moment that Labour hasn’t hit the bottom.

“I think there are more internal recriminations to follow.

“They may well bottom out well in time before the next UK general election.”

Currently, the next general election is scheduled for 2024 but a snap election may be called between then and now depending on the political events that prevail.

Despite this, pollsters predicting the outcome of future events suggest that the Tories are currently on course to win an 88-seat majority, according to website Election Polling.

In this time Sir Keir hopes to send Labour in a new direction with the announcement of his new manifesto and economic vision last week.

This, he said, would not look to the Tony Blair and Mr Corbyn years, much to the displeasure of many of those present at the virtual event held by the centre-left think tank Progressive Britain.

He said he would spend the summer making extended visits to places the party must win, like those sears in the North of England and Midlands.

Yet, the new manifesto will resemble Mr Corbyn’s, keeping many of the radical policies including re-nationalising key industries, including rail, energy networks and Royal Mail, and making extensive new offers on childcare, adult education and social care.

Peter Mandelson, Hartlepool’s former MP, who was present at the event, offered his experience and said Sir Keir should start listening more closely to those who had won elections for Labour, rather than seeing Mr Blair’s time in power as a time of an “embarrassing aunt”.

Sir Keir remained steadfast during the Q&A, however, and said: “We can’t hug someone from the past, some historical figure, and say all we need is X.

“We’ve got to do it, the hard work is on us.”

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