December’s General Election result was disastrous for the Labour Party. We achieved our lowest number of seats since 1935, with many more seats held by significantly reduced majorities. In East Hull, we barely held on, with a majority reduced from 10,396 to 1239. Turnout was lower than 2017 but our share of the vote collapsed. The main issues on the doorstep were leadership, Brexit and affordability of our manifesto commitments. We were not seen as a credible, trustworthy alternative to Johnson’s Tories.
The Labour Party has undergone an incredible transformation under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, with an astronomical rise in membership and a policy agenda true to our own identity. However, we must recognise the seriousness of our current dire position.
Again, on doorsteps in East Hull and across the country, our position on Brexit did not resonate, voters did not have faith in the leadership of our party, and far too many people, in working-class communities like East Hull particularly, felt that Labour no longer represented them. We must never be in that position again. As Angela Rayner said last Monday, the choice we face as a Labour movement is a simple one: win or die.
The person best placed to win again with Labour is Keir Starmer. This is both my own view, the one most widely held by my constituency Labour Party membership in East Hull, and that of the majority of members consulted in the recent YouGov poll.
Keir Starmer has the values, capability, and track record to breathe new life into the Labour Party, and crucially to revive our electoral fortunes. Ultimately, he is the candidate the Tories fear most. He is the candidate to be our next Prime Minister.
Keir is my ultimate choice for leader, but it is absolutely vital that voices such as Lisa Nandy’s are heard in this leadership election too. Lisa’s focus on communities in the North of England, shifting real power away from London, and vision of a Labour Party centred on grassroots, community activism, are ideas central to our future, as is her determination to listen to those that we have lost. Traditional Labour voters rejected us in favour of the Tories and the Brexit Party.
Regaining the trust and support of those who felt that we did not stand for them is our most important task.
For the position of Deputy Leader, I will be nominating Angela Rayner. Angela has done brilliant work as Shadow Education Secretary, has fought her way to the top from humble roots, and is the clear favourite amongst Labour members in East Hull.
Whoever we choose to support, and whoever is announced as leader of the Labour Party on 4th April, we must remain a united party.
We must never allow the divisions of the past to fester again and harm our future election chances.
Only united in full solidarity can we fight and oppose the Tories’ attacks on public services and workers’ rights and win on behalf of the people that we need us most.