Nottinghamshire for Owen Smith

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Cheered by Nottingham South Labour Party’s nomination of Owen Smith for Labour Leader, Nottinghamshire Labour activists, including Lilian Greenwood MP, Chris Leslie MP, Vernon Coaker MP and Paddy Tipping PCC, met to rally, phone members and talk to the press.
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Chris Leslie MP meets some very polite students

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The MP for Nottingham East was invited to the University of Nottingham to talk about why Labour lost the 2015 General Election and to discuss whether Labour can win again – answer yes, cos he was in front of an audience.
50 or more students attended and those with points to make all thanked Chris for his talk, which they all enjoyed.  How polite was that?
Basic story – Labour can struggle to win in Britain, but 1997 was enabled by a big economic crisis, much as was its defeat in 2010.
People felt insecure in 2015, and Ed Miliband was not perceived as sufficiently Prime Ministerial to overcome that.  Labour was not left wing in particular, but its policies did resonate much more with its urban core.  Conservative generated fears over a Labour-SNP coalition was the final factor in the mix.
As for 2020, or whenever the next General Election is, Chris is doubtful about a strategy built on winning over non-voters, Greens and others – we do have to win over Conservatives in the marginal seats like those that surround Nottingham.
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The event was chaired by former BBC political correspondent, John Hess, who was very polite when introducing me.  ‘If anyone knows how to win elections …’  – rather defying the history of my efforts to win South Derbyshire in 2010.
I made some points – perhaps less politely – but still think it’s time for something fresh from across the spectrum of the Labour Party – good government, accountable government, making the profits work for society and the people and embracing the climate change challenge as a focus for green and sustainable improvements to inspire and involve people in making something better.
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I’m afraid I missed the “ideological cage fight” remark – which is why John Hess is the journalist, not me.
(John has kindly provided his notes of Chris’ remarks; see the comment attached.)

Chris Leslie MP’s annual MP Question Time

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Chris writes – “On Friday night I held my annual “MP Question Time” at St Ann with Emmanuel Church in Robin Hood Chase and we had a healthy Q&A discussion across a range of local, national and international matters. … Staying in touch with the views of local people is important for me and this regular public forum ensures I can be held to account – and I promise I didn’t know the questions before they were asked!”

The Conservative Iceberg

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Chris Leslie MP (Nottingham East, Shadow Chancellor) is expressing concern about just how much of what the Conservative government intends to do is still hidden –
“The Government begin this new parliamentary session with significant question marks hanging over the direction they intend to travel. Ministers have tried in vain to make the right noises about ‘fairness’ and even a ‘one nation’ approach, but there are increasing suspicions this language is the tip of an iceberg, with 90% of their real agenda hidden from public view.
When George Osborne replied to my opening remarks in the House of Commons in Thursday’s debate on the Queen’s Speech, he added to this sense of a hidden agenda by springing an announcement about in-year public service cuts, suddenly changing direction from the course set out just a few weeks ago at the March Budget.”

Labour’s motion was –
“… regret that [government proposals] to provide a strategy to build the productive economy that the country needs;
“note that a fragile recovery and stagnating productivity harms living standards and makes it harder to reduce the deficit;
“believe that every effort should now be concentrated on supporting middle- and lower-income working people;
“further note that the [proposals are] a missed opportunity to tackle the principal causes of rising welfare costs that flow from a low wage, high rent economy;
“further believe in the pooling and sharing of resources across the UK as the best mechanism for delivering social and economic change;
“urge the Government to pursue sensible savings in public expenditure as part of a balanced approach and not an ideologically-driven attempt to shrink public services beyond what is needed to address the deficit; and
“call upon Ministers to spell out where their cuts will fall and who will pay for their unfunded election pledges.”

Nottingham East Labour Party reviews the General Election

But first, congratulations to our MP, Chris Leslie, who as Shadow Chancellor holds the most senior position in the Labour Party that any Nottingham Labour MP has held.
A sober debate followed with a big emphasis on wanting to know what happened.
Some wanted to say that the result had not been a disaster, and whilst it wasn’t an accepted view, it was a surprise to hear that Labour’s national vote was only 220,000 lower than in 2005, when Labour did win a majority.
From which, the main point remains, we need to learn what happened and when.
New information keeps being raised, like older voters not supporting Labour.