Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, has insisted “things are good in the Labour Party” – despite Keir Starmer’s botched reshuffle and battering in the local elections.
Amid an inquest into the party’s failings after last week’s disappointing results – particularly the loss of the Hartlepool by-election to the Tories – Nandy told LBC that a shadow cabinet meeting on Monday was “pretty jovial”.
Her intervention came after Angela Rayner, the deputy leader, urged Labour to stop talking down to voters after the party’s damaging election losses.
Rayner’s comments came after she was given greater authority within the shadow cabinet following intense criticism of Starmer’s initial move to strip her of key roles as party chairwoman and campaign co-ordinator.
The Labour leader told his reshuffled top team that he takes full responsibility for the electoral failings as he met them for the first time since last week’s losses.
Rayner was eventually given a new job shadowing Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove after furious accusations Sir Keir was trying to scapegoat her.
She was also made shadow first secretary of state, effectively making her the shadow deputy prime minister.
“We have got to change how the Labour Party operates”
Writing in the Guardian, Rayner said: “We have got to change how the Labour Party operates, how it talks and how it relates to the people and communities that we seek to serve and represent.
“For too long we have given off an air of talking down to people and telling people what they need, or even what they should want or what they should think.
“There has been too much of Labour doing things for people and communities, and not enough doing things with people and communities.
“Working-class people don’t want a handout or someone telling us what we should think. We want the opportunities to do it for ourselves.”
Rayner also offered what was interpreted as coded criticism of Starmer, who was known for using tactics in the Commons to heap pressure on the government during Brexit negotiations.
“Politics is not about the language of Parliament or party processes. We need to show those who have lost faith what we stand for that we are on their side and that we will stand up for them,” Rayner said.
11 point lead
Meanwhile, the final results of Thursday’s English council elections were announced when the outcome was declared in Winchester on Monday evening.
The Tories gained 294 councillors across the nation, while Labour lost 267.
Polling has also put the Tories 11 points ahead of their closest rivals in the national contest.
BREAKING: Tory lead rises to 11pts.— Stats for Lefties (@LeftieStats) May 10, 2021
CON: 45% (+5)
LAB: 34% (-4)
LD: 8% (+1)
GRN: 5% (-)
SNP: 4% (-)
REF: 2% (-1)
CON: 360 (+49)
LAB: 206 (-46)
SNP: 50 (-2)
LD: 8 (-1)
GRN: 1 (-)
OTH: 23 (-)
Tory majority of 74 seats.
Via @RedfieldWilton, 10 May (+/- since 3 May) pic.twitter.com/DkVJIuEPYc
Labour sources earlier in the day said Sir Keir made clear during his shadow cabinet meeting that he was not trying to shift the blame for the party’s dismal election showing.
He was said to have told them there was no escaping the scale of the defeats which said “something profound about the size of the journey we have to go”.
“To be clear, I take responsibility. Nobody else,” he said. “I lead the Labour Party and it is entirely on me.”