Jeremy Corbyn in no longer the leader of the Labour Party. His time as leader has come to an end after the Labour Party’s worst electoral defeat since before the war. A defeat which means this is the first time since the 1930s that not a single reader of The Sentinel will be represented by a Labour MP and neither of us are in post to help you and your families.
While the country’s focus is rightly on the continuing fight against Covid-19 and keeping our families, our communities, our NHS and public servants safe, you may have missed that on Saturday a new leader of the Labour Party was chosen.
By an overwhelming margin, Keir Starmer was chosen by MPs and councillors, by trade unionists and by ordinary party members to be our next leader. A normal lad done good. The son of a nurse and toolmaker, knighted for his public service in keeping our country safe.
Keir’s challenge is to rebuild and reconnect the Labour Party with our communities and it will be a tough.
The days of 1997 with the Labour Party holding every seat on Stoke-on-Trent City Council and controlling Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council and holding parliamentary seats not just in Stoke-on-Trent but in Newcastle-under-Lyme – where Llin Golding commanded a majority of 17,000 – and in Crewe, Stafford and the Staffordshire Moorlands are long gone.
We know better, more than most, just how wide the divide is between the Labour Party and those people who the Labour Party hope to serve.
But – and there is a but – we also know Keir Starmer. We haven’t always agreed with him but we know him to be a man of principle and someone who wants to ensure that the voices of Stoke-on-Trent are heard loudly and just as clearly as those in London.
As the Director of Public Prosecutions, he took the difficult decisions needed to keep our streets safe. He put terrorists behind bars and made sure that our police could do their jobs without fear of prosecution. In appointing his top team he has brought in voices from across the country and the Labour Party.
He has chosen people based on talent and merit and has already reset Labour’s purpose as an opposition who will hold the Government to account but in a constructive way, recognising that there are some issues which require us all to work together in the good of the nation. Putting our country before party politics.
Keir has worked hard for everything he has achieved – he inherited nothing other than his real Labour values from his parents. He understands that most people want a fair deal and opportunities for their kids. He knows that in cities like Stoke-on-Trent, our future has to be more than looking at our past through rose-tinted glasses and hoping that yesterday’s solutions will fit tomorrow’s problems.
He knows that it is about all of us finding our place in the world as the world changes, making sure our communities don’t just survive but thrive.
And as Keir said during his leadership election campaign, Brexit is now settled. Any arguments about second referendums are done. But having spoken with Keir, we are convinced he understands that when places like Stoke-on-Trent voted to leave that it wasn’t just about our relationship with Europe but about a city trying to make its voice heard.
We are convinced that Keir Starmer has heard us – has heard you. We are confident he understands that proud cities like Stoke-on-Trent won’t be won back over to the Labour Party by ever increasing promises of freebies – but that the Labour Party has to earn back the respect and the trust through hard work and by proving that we, once again, clearly stand for the values that make this city great.
It won’t be easy and at times it will be uncomfortable for the new leadership to hear what has to be said but, finally, we have a leader who wants to listen, wants to learn and to do what he can to win back your trust and ultimately your vote.