Labour figures led by Stephen Kinnock are launching new organisation ‘Renaissance’ that aims to help the party “make a serious effort to reconnect” with voters it has lost rather than “retreat to its comfort zone and drift to irrelevance”.
Renaissance will make the case that Labour should rebuild support in constituencies lost to the Conservatives in 2019, as opposed to pursuing a ‘Blue Wall’ strategy that would target Remain-leaning Tory seats in the South of England.
The new group, funded privately by Labour members, plans to offer support to the party leadership by concentrating efforts on the more than 100 of Labour’s 123 target seats that are outside major cities.
While helping Keir Starmer to develop his storytelling as leader, Renaissance aims to re-establish Labour as “the natural home for working families” with an emphasis on good, secure jobs and navigating the changing world of work.
“The Labour Party is at a crossroads: it can either choose to make a serious effort to re-connect with the communities and working families whose trust and support it has lost, or it can choose to retreat to its comfort zone and drift to irrelevance.
“Thankfully Keir Starmer is committed to re-establishing Labour as a whole nation party, and Renaissance is here to help him to do so,” Stephen Kinnock, the Labour frontbencher who will chair the organisation, said.
The advisory board of the new group includes MPs Yvette Cooper, Justin Madders and Carolyn Harris, plus ex-MP Ruth Smeeth and former parliamentary candidates Rachel Eden and Charlotte Holloway.
Kinnock told LabourList: “It’s very clear that we’ve got an opportunity to really show people that we are the party of work and good jobs, that we’re a party that sees the UK needs to stand on its own two feet. We have to cooperate with other countries but we’re also a country that desperately needs a modern manufacturing renaissance.
“A lot of the people we spoke with are very concerned about overexposure to imports from countries like China, and the collapse of our manufacturing sector has been at the heart of so many of the weaknesses that we see in the British economy.”
Another area that Renaissance will highlight is “sound and sensible management of the public finances”, specifically “demonstrating value for money for the taxpayer” and “investing to save”, the Labour MP said.
The first project of the organisation consists of “detailed conversations with former Labour voters in target seats across England and Wales”, particularly speaking to those who have stopped voting Labour in the last ten years but are open to supporting the party once again.
The report, including findings and recommendations, is due to be delivered by early September. Renaissance intends to take it to local parties across the country as well as to the Labour leadership.
“One of the things that comes through very strongly is how difficult it is to get a hearing. Because trust is so low,” Renaissance chair Kinnock told LabourList. “You know, that is a big challenge for all political parties.
“But it’s a particularly big challenge for us, because there is a sense that the Conservatives got Brexit done and they’ve delivered on furlough. So there’s more of a record of delivery, which, by definition happens when we haven’t been in government for ten years.
“We have to show, we have to tell stories about the future of the country that get people interested in Labour again and win us a hearing. That’s very much what Renaissance is about.
“We’re not delving into policy detail. But we are looking for those compelling stories that really resonate, and that will, we hope, provide fertile ground for the policies that are going to come out of the policy review that Anneliese [Dodds] is conducting.”
He said it is key that Labour commits to “a small number of powerful and compelling stories that it then sticks to and repeats”, which would “lay the groundwork for excellent policy announcements”, such as the plan by Rachel Reeves to “make, sell and buy more in Britain”.