After a dismal performance in last year’s General Election, the Labour Party needs to take time and win back the confidence of the public, says Lisa Nandy.
Wigan MP Nandy was overjoyed with the party’s performance in her constituency in last week’s local elections, where Labour saw success in 19 of the borough’s 25 wards.
That comes in spite of the bitter anti-Semitism row sparked by Bradford West MP Naz Shah and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, and continued questions over leader Jeremy Corbyn.
But the Shadow Energy Secretary believes that the party continues to face an uphill battle to win back the trust of voters nationwide.
She told MM: “We should be optimistic about the case that we are making to people, but we should also have humility.
“We’ve lost the confidence of a lot of the electorate, and it’s going to be a tough road back for us.
“We have lost people’s confidence over quite a long period of time, and it’s not just Jeremy Corbyn’s responsibility to turn that around, it’s the responsibility of all of us.”
Corbyn’s leadership has been under the spotlight from the moment he was voted in last September, but he has faced increased scrutiny in the aftermath of the much-publicised anti-Semitism row.
Last week’s elections marked the Islington North MP’s biggest test yet, with political commentators raising questions over his future depending on the outcome.
But Nandy insists that Labour must remain united behind Corbyn as it continues to take on the Conservative Government.
“A few months ago people said the Oldham by-election was going to be a test of Jeremy Corbyn, they said that we would lose it,” she said.
“We didn’t, the world moved on.
“Labour wants to see a fairer country that treats people better and punches above its weight in the world on the big issues that matter – whether it’s climate change, trade, jobs or tackling global terror.
“We’re completely united in that. Since Jeremy became leader we’ve defeated the Tories on a whole series of things that really matter to the people of Greater Manchester – particularly over tax credits, where the cuts to working people would have been catastrophic.
“That is what we’re interested in, taking the fight to the Tory.
“My job as a member of the Shadow Cabinet is to make sure we focus on that and we unite behind that, and make sure we’re the most effective opposition that we can possibly be.”
Uniting the Labour party to form an effective opposition includes tidying up the anti-Semitism mess that saw 18 members suspended – including Livingstone.
Corbyn set up an inquiry into claims of anti-Semitism last Friday, appointing former head of rights group Liberty Shami Chakrabarti to tackle the issue.
It’s a move supported by Nandy, who believes the party must do all it can to make it an ‘open, tolerant and respectful’ body.
“Anti-Semitism exists in this country. It exists, I think, in every political party,” she said.
“Of course there is concern about the accusations made – I share those concerns, I think Jeremy shares them as well – and it’s just really important that we take them seriously.
“Every political party has a responsibility to look at themselves and to take that sort of action, and what I’ve found around the country is that there’s strong support for the fact we’ve taken action.
“It’s really important for Labour, as a party that has consistently championed equality and non-discrimination, that we do better, and make sure we’re a decent place to be.”
The next fight for Labour comes in the form of next month’s EU referendum, and the majority of the party has nailed its red colour to the blue and gold flag in Brussels.
So far the European debate has been dominated by Conservative ‘Bremainers’ and ‘Brexiters’, but Nandy believes that Labour is ready to make its voice heard.
“Europe is shaping up to be a really big debate,” she said.
“There are very strong views on both sides. My feeling is that most people haven’t made up their minds yet.
“I am firmly of the view that it is better for Wigan, for Greater Manchester and for the North West that we stay in.
“Not just because of the impact on trade and jobs, but also because we can’t tackle the big issues we face, whether it’s climate change or global terrorism, without being part of the European Union and cooperating more, not less.
“I am confident in that case, but we’ve got to get out there and make it.”
Image courtesy of BBC, via YouTube, with thanks