Shaun Bailey details how Tories can break southern ‘red wall’
Ms Rayner and the Labour Party’s battle to win back the working class regions of England has been left in tatters following the Budget announcement, Express.co.uk was told. It comes as leader Sir Keir Starmer continues on his campaign to win back the seats lost under Jerermy Corbyn in the 2019 general election. The Chancellor’s March Budget, while aiming to curb the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, also sought to further cement its presence in the Red Wall.
Regions consisting of working class communities across the north of England and Midlands were captured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the last ballot with his promise to “get Brexit done”.
While many note that the Budget wasn’t exclusively aimed at these people, Paul Embery, a leading trade unionist and Labour member, said the “disproportionate spending” in Red Wall seats could be a turning point for Labour’s chances to reclaim lost ground.
He said: “In terms of its impact, it might change the perspective of those working class voters.
“If people in those Red Wall seats at the end of this Parliament see their areas having tangibly improved, they’ve seen investment, regeneration, job opportunities, they’ve seen their own living standards improve, then Labour’s got a real problem.
Angela Rayner: The Labour deputy and her colleagues face a job in winning back the Red Wall
Rishi Sunak: The Chancellor announced a range of measures in his Budget last week
“No one could have foreseen the pandemic, so that’s thrown everything up in the air in many ways, and as to whether or not some of the promises made to those areas will be delivered upon, we’ll have to wait and see.
“But if things continue the way they are, it’s not inconceivable that those people will vote Tory again.”
Labour MPs have since been caught in bitter exchanges with Tory MPs who have snatched Red Wall seats.
Ms Rayner was forced to apologise last year for calling newly elected Heywood and Middleton MP Chris Clarkson “scum” after he criticised her party’s opposition to the government’s handling of the pandemic.
JUST IN: Stonehenge: Welsh landowner wants monument ‘reclaimed’
Keir Starmer: The Labour leader has pledged to turn the outfit into the patriotic party
Many of the seats fell to the Conservatives for the first time in their history: Blyth Valley had been Labour since 1950; Leigh, in Greater Manchester, changed hands from the party for the first time since 1922.
A combination of Mr Corbyn and Brexit were blamed.
Phil Wilson, who stood for Labour in former leader Tony Blair’s old constituency of Sedgefield in County Durham, said Mr Corbyn went down “like a lead balloon” with voters on the doorstep.
At the time, he tweeted: “For Labour leadership to blame Brexit for the result is mendacious nonsense. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was a bigger problem. To say otherwise is delusional.”
In the wake of the election, Prime Minister Johnson thanked the communities for “lending” him their vote and promised to “level-up” the North.
Keir Starmer mocked over calls for school breakfast clubs [REPORT]
Meghan interview will not damage UK-US special relationship [INSIGHT]
Lockdown ends: Ten things you can do today you couldn’t before [ANALYSIS]
Blyth Valley: Places like Blyth swapped hands from Labour for the first time in decades
Boris Johnson: The PM thanked the North for ‘lending’ him their vote in his victory speech
A glimmer of this levelling up was seen in the Budget after analysis by the Financial Times found that Tory areas in England, some in the North, are more likely to be given “priority one” status under a new funding scheme.
Sir Keir, however, accused Mr Johnson of “pork barrel politics” over how they had categorised local authorities under the news £4.8billion the fund as it emerged that already prosperous constituencies appeared to be given considerable sums.
The Labour leader has himself committed to winning back the country’s working class by turning the outfit into the “patriotic party”.
Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham, noted to Express.co.uk how Sir Keir is now “never seen without the Union Jack”.
Brexit: Starmer’s Brexit policy has flip-flopped over the years
He added: “In speeches, he focuses on family, community, security, patriotism.”
These buzzwords, according to a leaked Labour memo last month, are a push to win back disillusioned voters.
Furore ensued after an internal strategy presentation commissioned by the party found its way into the public, outlining how Labour must make “use of the [union] flag, veterans [and] dressing smartly”.
A party spokesperson said the wording came from the brand agency Republic’s language rather than the Labour Party.
Union Jack: Starmer is rarely seen without a flag in the background during his speeches
Yet, many party staffers were left concerned.
One told The Guardian: “I was just sitting there replaying in my mind the storming of the Capitol [in Washington last month] and thinking: are you really so blind to what happens when you start pandering to the language and concerns of the right?”
Clive Lewis, a prominent Corbynite who dropped out of the party’s leadership race early on last year, and who served as a soldier in Afghanistan, said: “The Tory party has absorbed Ukip and now Labour appears to be absorbing the language and symbols of the Tory party.
“It’s not patriotism; it’s Fatherland-ism. There’s a better way to build social cohesion than moving down the track of the nativist right.”