Open Labour statement on 2021 elections

This weekend was an opportunity for the Labour Party to unite around some encouraging election results after early disappointments. Instead, Labour was too quick to catastrophise our performance, which risked demoralising our candidates, members and voters, and missed an opportunity to analyse the full set of results.

We had our best result ever in Wales’ national Senedd elections, returning First Minister Mark Drakeford with an increased vote share.

Scottish Labour has been brought back from the brink, delivering 22 MSPs including making history with Pam Duncan-Glancy, the first permanent wheelchair user elected to the Scottish Parliament.

In West Yorkshire, we also made history as Tracy Brabin was elected England’s first female metro Mayor by an astonishing margin. We won the West of England mayoral election, beating the Conservative incumbent by more than 40,000 votes. We won the Cambridge and Peterborough mayoral election from the Tories. Sadiq Khan won London with a bigger share of the vote than Boris Johnson did in his second term. We swept up Greater Manchester – both on the council, including key ‘red wall’ areas, and Mayor Andy Burnham’s landslide win with nearly 70% of the vote.

Labour has made further inroads in council seats across England, including gains in the true blue Home Counties, the South West and along the South coast. Despite some losses, results show that overall there has been a vote swing to Labour since the 2019 General Election. We are rebuilding.

Tory heartlands are fracturing. They have been rocked by widespread shock losses in these areas, including barely holding onto and losing control of councils they previously took for granted. This spells serious trouble for them at future elections in seats they mistakenly thought to be a job for life.

Our many successes and the fractures in the southern Tory heartlands needed to be the lines Labour pushed as the results unfolded.

Starting a cabinet reshuffle, before ballot counts in many parts of the country had even started (and just in time for the Sunday Papers to plug deeply negative coverage of our party, overshadowing our successes) must never happen again. Cabinet reshuffles are messy, but they are a part of politics, and their timing and management must be carefully thought through. Reshuffles within LOTO can be messy, but are also easier, and perhaps more necessary in order for us to develop as a party.

Labour’s strategy nationally needs to get back to the fundamentals: To enthuse our own members, to mobilise supporters and to inspire swing voters to vote for us. We cannot begin to win over swing voters unless we have enthused and inspired our own natural voters and shown others that there’s something worth voting for.

Labour needs a clear identity which embraces our natural supporters and reaches out to those we can win over. We need courage in our convictions, to be honest about what we believe in to win hearts and minds. We need to come back fighting with a bold, transformational offer to the country.

An agenda with clear themes, packaged with policies rooted in the values of our voters, members and those whose support we can realistically seek but do not yet have. Fresh ideas which spring from people’s everyday challenges of work and life, which understands Britain’s diverse and modern working classes. Financial security, a decent place to live, and freedom from fear are our demands for a dignified life for all.

That is how we can build a winning electoral coalition to transform this country for the better. And that is what we will do.

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