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Labour can only be relevant to people if it gives them the power

The party needs a strategy to win back working people before it starts focusing on who should be leader, writes LUCY WOOD

ONLY three months ago it was Labour conference and confident Labour MPs strutted around Brighton, knowing that even though they were in opposition they were the ones who had control of Parliament. 

Boris Johnson’s Tory minority was flailing like a turtle on its back, unable to win a majority, Labour was winning, they could do no wrong. 

Except on a Sunday afternoon a fringe event called Winning Back the Labour Heartlands unwittingly predicted why Labour was not just walking but sprinting down the path to Loserville. 

Labour’s Tees Valley mayoral candidate, Jessie Jacobs hit the nail on the head when she shared a story about a young man she had spoken to who was a father of four and had lost his job. 

He was on universal credit. They discussed how hard it is, how he can’t feed his kids, but he said: “You know what, once we leave the EU, everything will be all right.” 

That was the magical unicorn that the working class were sold about the EU. These people were on their knees struggling and their problems were ignored, they felt powerless and hopeless and then in 2016 the words “Take back control” gave those people hope. 

As Jacobs said: “It’s powerful to those communities because they feel that taking control back from the EU and leaving is taking control of their futures and their destinies.” 

She also described how under the last Labour government the north of England was betrayed. That Labour government did nothing to claw back at the damage caused to trade unions’ power in the ’80s. 

She said: “When you take away the power of the trade union movement you take power away from working-class people.” 

It has been just over a week since the gutting loss of the general election and the reasons are quite clear, but the focus has shifted to who will lead the Labour Party, when the focus for now should be what is the plan to rebuild the trust that the party has lost? 

What is the plan to put Labour back into the winning position? Jacobs knows it, we all knew it but we had too many factions fighting against it and undermining it because they would rather have the view that working-class people didn’t know what they were voting for, which may as well be putting a dunce cap on their heads and making them sit in a corner. 

The people kept speaking out by using their votes, left-wing Leave voices were suppressed. The Leave vote was promoted as a far-right endeavour, and balanced, truthful mainstream reporting was nowhere to be seen. 

It created a chasm between Leavers and Remainers where no compromise would be enough, and all the time Labour was bombarded with pressure from within and without to take a Remain stance. 

It was wrong and now those same voices want to tell the party how to win back the working class or think that they can be trusted to lead… 

Labour can only be relevant to people if it gives them the power. It isn’t about getting a Labour government back into power it is about putting people back into power. 

It is giving them control over their lives whether their views are right or wrong. That is what the Conservatives did right in this campaign “Get Brexit done” the Tory campaign mantra, which resonated with working-class voters across the country, because once Brexit is done, they believe things will get better. 

The Tories have a history of making promises they do not keep and the Labour heartlands may relearn why they have denied them their vote for generations but it should never be a moment where we turn round and say “I told you so.” 

When the working class suffer, we suffer together and we will need solidarity and unity in the coming years to fight against the cuts to our public services that are yet to come and to claw back what has been taken from us all when the time comes.

Labour need to be working towards a plan that is simple and direct and lets people know that voting for a Labour government puts them back in control of their futures and destinies. 

Labour needs to focus on a plan to cut through the noise of an unfair mainstream media and the propaganda adverts peddling fake facts via google, Facebook and Twitter before they start focusing on who to lead the party. 

It needs a plan on how it will react to smears and accusations towards its MPs and the next leader because whoever the leader is, they will not get an easy ride from the Establishment, especially after five years of a Tory majority government led by Boris Johnson. 

Everybody is in such a rush to replace Jeremy Corbyn but everyone seems to have forgotten that without a strategy, you can’t pick a leader to implement it.

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