Mon, 20 May 2024

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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Ian Lavery tells Labour candidates to ‘stop trying to out-working class each other’

2 min read

Labour leadership candidates have been told to stop trying to “out-working-class” one another by the party’s chair. 

Keir Starmer, Jess Philips and Rebecca Long-Bailey have all publicly highlighted their working-class credentials in the race to become party leader. 

But Ian Lavery, Labour party chair, said the candidates’ policies and life experiences were more important than their parents’ jobs. 

Speaking to the Guardian, he said: “What has been pretty infuriating is that candidates have been trying to out-working-class each other… 

“For heaven’s sake! What we need is a leader and deputy leader who’ve got life experience themselves, who understand people from different classes. 

“Because the way we’ll win an election is not just by representing one class of society, but a coalition of classes – with policies that will enhance the lives of everyone.”

Among the 60 seats lost by Labour at the 2019 election, many were in predominantly working-class “Labour heartlands”, previously dominated by mining or heavy industry. 

The devastating losses have prompted an internal debate about how the party can best reconnect with these constituencies. 

Stewart Wood, a former adviser to Ed Miliband, who was criticised publicly for having two kitchens, told the paper ideology could be as important as background. 

“The Labour party has always been massively contradictory. Tony Benn never got a bit of grief from anyone on the left for being from a hereditary background. 

“If you have the right ideology, it washes your sins away for that part of the party that also cares about class. 

“It’s much harder if you’re from the right of the party and you’re posh, like Tony Blair.”

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