'Labour is the problem not Keir Starmer', says MP Steve Reed after 'shattering' result

7 May 2021, 12:49

By Tim Dodd

Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Steve Reed told LBC that Labour's 'shattering' by-election result in Hartlepool is down to the party, not leader Sir Keir Starmer.

It comes after the Conservatives won the key Labour seat for the first time since its creation in 1974.

Reacting to the defeat, which saw Jill Mortimer beat Labour's candidate Paul Williams by nearly 7,000 votes, MP Steve Reed told Nick Ferrari:

"It's a shattering result for Labour, a devastating result...It hurts to see a place like Hartlepool, which has been Labour for half a century, now in Conservative hands, and it says to me we haven't moved on anything like enough from the crushing general election defeat of 2019.

"We need to move our party forward further and faster than the change that people have seen so far."

Read more: 'The people of Hartlepool aren't daft,' newly-elected MP Jill Mortimer tells LBC

Nick responded: "In what direction? Because some would argue that you've effectively got two parties within one Labour party. You've still got those who believe Jeremy Corbyn had a message which was worth delivering, and you've got those who subscribe to Sir Keir's party which sadly did very badly last night."

Talking of his experiences of door knocking, Mr Reed said: "People like the fact that we have now, after many many years, got a guy as our leader, who they see as a credible alternative Prime Minister.

"I don't think the problem is Keir, I think the problem is the party itself.

"The first thing you do after a mega set of elections like this is take stock, see what people have actually said to us and try and understand it."

Read more: Hartlepool: 'Labour's got a big problem,' says former MP, as Tories win 'iconic' seat

"They feel there's been a rupture, both in trust, in culture, in who we stand for, in what we care about. We're inward looking, we're introspective, we talk to ourselves - they see us too much as a party of almost 'student protest', and not a party that can take [their] aspirations and turn it into an agenda for government."

Nick asked why Labour couldn't hold the seat despite the "pretty disastrous" first steps of the Conservative Government at the start of the pandemic.

Mr Reed responded:"We have not yet told people that we have an agenda that was different to the one they comprehensively rejected in December 2019 - the biggest defeat the Labour party has suffered in 85 years."

Read more: Elections 2021: James O'Brien gives his instant reaction