What happened on Friday, December 13 was nothing short of a horror-show for the Labour Party.

We lost what felt like an A-Z of English and Welsh ‘heartland’ seats – Ashfield, Bassetlaw and Bolsover all the way through to Workington, Wrexham and Ynys Môn.

Many of these 60 seats had voted Labour for over half a century.

I found this hideously painful to watch, but my constituents who are suffering under the Tories from low wages, an explosion in child poverty, and the disastrous failure of Universal Credit will have felt much, much worse.

So how did this nightmare happen?

Firstly, our leadership came across as weak and incompetent, failing to tackle anti-Semitism, failing to communicate its messages, and failing to present a credible manifesto.

In 2017 Labour had an intelligent, fully-costed manifesto, but in 2019 we offered a Christmas wish-list.

Perhaps the biggest mistake, politically, was on Brexit.

Slowly Labour has become a puppet of the People’s Vote campaign.

If we’d accepted Theresa May’s final cross-party offer in the Spring we could have been looking a soft Brexit compromise and a post-Brexit Labour government.

Instead we have a hard Brexit and at least five more years of the Tories.

A public apology from Labour to Leave voters for failing to properly respect the referendum result, and to Remainers for failing to secure the best possible Brexit, would help build bridges.

Moving forward, there are some causes for optimism.

Many voters will have ‘lent’ their votes to the Tories to ‘get Brexit done’ and because of concerns about Jeremy Corbyn.

Now Labour must focus relentlessly on winning those voters back so we can rebuild the ‘Red Wall’.

This means showing voters we can keep our nation safe and our public finances healthy.

It means helping more families and communities to thrive in the modern world, recognising that for too long politicians have let global economic forces rip up high streets and close down workplaces all across Britain’s industrial towns, without giving people the tools to succeed.

That must now change.

We must also ditch Corbyn’s hard-left world view that allows the conspiracy theories that drive anti-Semitism, and that have no truck with ordinary, hard-working people.

We must also start bringing people together, uniting and empowering families and communities.

This means devolving power out of Westminster across England in particular, but it also means understanding that if we want to build a successful, diverse, tolerant society we need to focus far more on what we have in common than on our differences.

Labour needs to stop playing politics with identity and start bringing people together.That’s the recipe the next Labour leader will need to rebuild Britain.

The Mirror

That’s the criteria they must be judged upon.

It’s early days but I’m looking forward to hearing the candidates set out their stall.

We certainly need a Labour leader and party for the whole nation – not just for Remainers or Leavers, cities or towns – and we certainly don’t need ‘continuity Corbyn’.

Labour members will elect the next leader.

I therefore encourage anyone who has voted for Labour in the past, but is deeply concerned about the direction in which our party has travelled since 2015, to register as a Labour member and vote in the leadership election.

If you want a Labour Party that you can be proud to vote for again please stand up and be counted.


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