Local elections not all about Corbyn’s leadership, shadow cabinet minister says


Labour will not need to “defy the critics” in the local elections in fewer than three weeks’ time, a leading ally of Jeremy Corbyn said today.

Shadow cabinet minister Barry Gardiner criticised the idea of “presidential style local council elections”.

Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, spoke out after a ComRes poll for The Independent and Sunday Mirror handed the Tories a 21 point poll lead over Labour and after May’s party won a surprise council by-election in the opposition’s north-east heartland.

Last night Gardiner said the media was trying to “personalise” the local elections around Corbyn.

“These are local elections with local councillors. Some local councillors will have done a sterling job for local people and they will be re-elected. Others may not have done,” he told the Westminster House on BBC Radio Four.

“Labour will not need to defy the critics in the way you suggest. Time and time and time again you guys focus this around the personality of the leader instead of around the policies. I am trying to focus on the policies, on the doorstep it is the policies I will be talking about.”

Gardiner was speaking at the end of a week in which Labour unveiled a series of policies in the run-up to the local and metro mayor elections on May 4.

Corbyn and his shadow cabinet have announced measures on tackling late payment by big business, guarantee state pension increases and and introduce universal free school meals for primary pupils.

“I will be talking about those things that the Tories have got wrong and I will be talking about all the ways in which we are going to put it right: positive solutions for a legal living wage of £10 an hour, building a million homes, social care, all of those things,” Gardiner added.

“It’s an election campaign and that what you do on the election trail. You go out there and you make those policy commitments and people then vote if they like your policies. I’ll talk about policy and try not to run presidential style local council elections.”

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