Watch: Keir Starmer hears why Ipswich voters deserted Labour in 2019 election
PUBLISHED: 09:09 12 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:14 12 June 2020
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer was left in no doubt about the battle he faces to try to win back Ipswich and similar seats in the next general election during an online “Call Keir” session for local residents.
More than 100 people tuned into the Zoom meeting to hear him questioned by a number of voters – not Labour Party members – including some who had abandoned the party in the December general election after being loyal before.
Teacher Carl Fitch told Sir Keir that his pencil had hovered over the ballot paper in December, despite always voting Labour. “I could not see Jeremy Corbyn as an election winner,” Mr Fitch said.
He was concerned about the future of education – and about how schools were trying to reopen as the country came out of lockdown.
Sir Keir said the problem was that the schools have been closed for three months and now the government is now trying to reopen them. “Why didn’t they start thinking abut the problems of reopening three months ago and get a plan in hand then?” he asked.
Medical student Jody-Ann Miller said that a future Labour government would need to tackle inequalities, especially racial inequalities, as a matter of urgency – and said governments of both parties had failed to take adequate measures in the past.
Sir Keir agreed – but said there was not a need for a new report into racial inequality, adding: “(Labour MP) David Lammy was asked to produce a report by David Cameron. It was good that a Conservative prime minister asked a Labour MP to produce a report. But it has not been implemented. We don’t need a new report. We need to get on and act on that.”
And he also pledged that Labour would try to boost town centres like Ipswich. “It is the town centres that are at the heart of communities like this,” he said.
The meeting was chaired by Charlotte Sullivan from Heart FM and gave Sir Keir the chance to hear many concerns felt by people that had prevented them from voting Labour.
Afterwards he said: “This all comes down to a question of trust. The Labour Party has to regain the trust of the voters in places like Ipswich. Before December’s election there was a Labour MP who was liked and trusted (Sandy Martin) but the voters did not put their trust in the national leadership.”
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