At lunchtime, my sister and I headed for the Grand to a LabourList session about how to win back the Labour Heartlands.
The session was chaired by Sienna Rodgers from Labour List, who started by asking Ash Sarkar (Novara Media) what she thought were the Labour Heartlands. Ash questioned the conventional idea of what represents the Heartlands, telling the story of her grandmother who arrived in Tottenham from Bengal in her late teens and suffered loneliness and hard times and later worked as a care worker. As Ash said, some poorer urban areas of London should not be left out when we think of the heartlands.
Jon Trickett said that to rewin the areas that were traditionally Labour we needed to conduct hundreds of doorstep conversations. He said that there were times in Labour’s not so distant past when candidates were given quotas as to how many conversations they needed to conduct. The end result was not “conversations” but rather “sales pitches”. He said he grew up in an area of Leeds, but his constituency now was an ex-mining community and the campaigning work necessary in these two areas would need to be completely different. Only the candidate and his/her team on the ground could tell what approach was needed. This was not something that could be dictated centrally.
Chris Pearce PPC for North East Derbyshire echoed what Jon said. She said that she had many and long conversations on the doorstep. It was no good going in there asking people if Labour could rely on their vote. You had to start with their concerns, their everyday problems. She said this had been very difficult at the start, but that people were beginning again to engage in conversations about Labour and what the Party can offer.
The final speaker was Jessie Jacobs, who is running to become the first female mayor of a major conurbation (Tees Valley). Link to her website: https://jessiejacobs.co.uk/running-for-mayor/