Blairites 'in denial' about why Labour really lost the election, says party deputy chair Jon Trickett

A strategy targeting 'aspirational' middle class voters would not be based on the facts, he says

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Indy Politics

Labour figures advocating that the party adopts a strategy focused on “aspirational” middle class voters are “in denial” about why it lost the election, Labour’s deputy chair has said.

Jon Trickett, who sits in the shadow cabinet, warned potential leadership contenders that there was “not a shred of evidence” to support the position, which has been advocated by figures on the right of the party such as Lord Mandelson, Tony Blair, and Chuka Umunna.

“In a minor tidal wave of what looks like pre planned statements, a group of commentators have argued that what lost the election was a failure to tap into the hopes of ‘aspirational’ voters,” he wrote in the New Statesman magazine.

“However, there is not a shred of evidence for their argument. The explanations for our defeat are deeper than this simplistic assessment.”

Mr Trickett produced figures from the House of Commons library showing that Labour’s vote amongst professional social grade voters had recovered since 2010 but had fallen quite sharply amongst manual labourers and other working class voters.

“Those in the PLP with leadership aspirations cannot remain in denial or ignorance of these facts,” he said. “They do so at their own peril, but more fundamentally fail to understand why the Labour Party exists.”

The party deputy chair, who is MP for Hemsworth in West Yorkshire, said any potential leader of the party would need to hold on to and increase the party’s middle class vote, reach out to working class voters, and also “mobilise Labour identifiers who did not vote Labour”.

Mr Trickett’s article is the latest contribution to the debate about the future direction of the Labour party.

Leadership contender Chuka Umunna wrote in an article in the Observer that Labour must “start with the aspirations of voters”, while Lord Mandelson said the party had made a “terrible mistake” in ditching New Labour.

 

Lord Hutton, a former minister under Tony Blair, accused Labour under Ed Miliband of offering an "old-school socialist menu" to voters.

The Labour leadership is currently being contended by Chuka Umunna, Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, and Yvette Cooper. Backbencher and former paratrooper Dan Jarvis has ruled himself out, while Tottenham MP David Lammy has expressed some interest.

Following a vote by party members, the new Labour leader will be announced at a special conference on 12 September.

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