People were “so much angrier about Jeremy Corbyn” in this general election than in 2017 and a “handful” talked about violence towards the leader, Laura Pidcock has said in a letter to North West Durham voters following Labour’s defeat.
The ex-employment spokesperson for the Labour Party lost her seat on December 12th by a margin of 1,144. She was elected in 2017 and had been tipped as a potential successor to Corbyn.
In an open letter to her former constituents, Pidcock explained that anger against the Labour leader factored into people’s decision to vote Tory, with some constituents telling her that they would “shoot him” or “take a gun to his head”.
The left-winger also argued that Brexit was an issue the party could not “penetrate”, and that some of the fault for the loss could be laid at the feet of the previous Labour government.
The letter reads: “By 2019, you seemed so much angrier about Jeremy Corbyn. I had a handful of angry people say “I would shoot him” or “take a gun to his head” whilst in the next breath calling him an extremist. But mostly people were not connecting with him for lots of different reasons.”
The ex-Durham MP said the media played a significant role: “So much of the coverage sought to demolish Jeremy from day one, not because of him as a person, but because of his politics. And that demonisation will happen to other leaders who try and challenge the way things are.”
She suggested that the media weren’t interested in the substantive policy, writing that when she tried to talk about a “fundamental shift in power” or bringing “security and certainty for workers”, interviewers lost interest and asked for the “day’s political gossip” instead.
On Brexit, she wrote: “There was no appetite for that ‘Norway-style’ Brexit in the last Parliament and, it appeared, not amongst the people I represented… Brexit was without a doubt a fog that descended, and no issue could penetrate it.”
She added: “Many did not believe that we would implement the deal we re-negotiated the EU. Many of you believed that there would be something else that the political establishment would cook up to prevent leaving the EU.”
The ex-Labour frontbencher said she had warned the party on Brexit: “I warned of the strength of feeling. I listened to you in North West Durham. But it was not enough for those Labour voting people who really wanted to Leave and sniffed a sense of betrayal.”
Pidcock also claimed that people on both sides of the Brexit divide had told her that they wanted the Labour leader to take a position either way, rather than remain neutral. But she wrote that she thought Labour’s defeat was about more than Brexit and Corbyn, and blamed some of the anger on the previous Labour government.
“At many doors, there was a mixture of fury and apathy at successive governments (and I very much include New Labour in that). The current Labour Party were blamed for much of the problems in our communities, despite being out of power for a decade and I was seen as part of the establishment.”
She said that this created a “barrier to being believed”, adding: “Lots of you said: “It sounds great, but how are you going to pay for it?” Despite the costed manifesto and the painstaking and detailed work of different Labour teams, it didn’t seem achievable.”
Pidcock ended by thanking the people of North West Durham, and wrote: “I’ve lost this election, not with anger or resentment, but with love in my heart and a determination to build a better future.”