Keir Starmer has declared that Labour has “changed” but must “go further”, while denying that the party is in an existential crisis yet also saying that the issue “goes way beyond a reshuffle or personalities”.
In an BBC interview this afternoon, the Labour leader discussed the election results coming in from across the UK, telling those watching that the party needs to take a “bolder and stronger approach to the country”.
“We haven’t set out a strong enough case to the country,” Starmer said. “Very often, we’ve been talking to ourselves, instead of to the country. And we’ve lost the trust of working people, particularly in places like Hartlepool.”
He insisted that the election defeat was “not a question of left or right” but of “whether we’re facing the country”. The Labour leader told viewers this afternoon that he is “determined to do whatever is necessary to fix things”.
“I intend not only to take responsibility for the results, but to take responsibility for responsibility for fixing things,” Starmer said. “I will set out what change is needed over the next few days.”
Asked what changes he would make, he said: “I am going to set out a strong case to the country, learn the lessons of the elections that have come in so far and accept that we must reconnect and rebuild trust with working people.”
He added that he would not “set out a policy agenda in this interview”. Pressed several times on a possible reshuffle, Starmer refused to confirm whether he would be making changes to his shadow cabinet in the wake of the election results.
“We have lost four general elections in a row,” the Labour leader said. “We have bitterly disappointing general election results last night. This goes way beyond a reshuffle. It goes way beyond personalities.
“It goes to the core issue of whether the Labour Party is talking to itself or whether it is talking to the country.”
Starmer denied that the party is facing an “existential crisis” but said that Labour needs to “rise to the challenge of reconnecting with working people” and put a much “bolder and stronger approach to the country”.
His comments this afternoon followed a historic defeat for his party in the UK parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool, where Labour lost the seat for the first time since its creation in 1974 by a margin of nearly 7,000.
Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer, a farmer from North Yorkshire, beat Labour’s Dr Paul Williams who secured 8,589 votes, compared to the Tories who secured the backing of 15,529 residents in the North East constituency.
Local election results began to emerge this morning. Labour has so far lost 97 council seats and councils including Harlow (Labour to Tory), Nuneaton and Bedworth (Labour minority to Tory) and Sheffield (Labour to no overall control).
"We've lost that connection, that trust and I intend to rebuild that"
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) May 7, 2021