UK Politics

Sadiq Khan: Labour was 'hollowed out' during years in power

Sadiq Khan on Sunday Politics
Image caption Sadiq Khan: Labour is rebuilding

Shadow cabinet minister Sadiq Khan says Labour has begun the process of rebuilding the party after it was "hollowed out" by its years in power.

He told the BBC Labour did "some remarkable things in government" but "we lost thousands of activists, we lost thousands of councillors".

Labour had problems in organisation and had to recruit new members and persuade them to stand in shire areas, he added.

He said that Labour did well in 46 of the 106 target MP constituency areas.

Labour's gain of 291 councillors in Thursdays local election in England - regaining the same number lost at the low point of Gordon Brown's leadership in 2009 - has been overshadowed by the rise in vote share for UKIP.

Mr Khan told the BBC's Sunday Politics: "We've got to make sure the public understand that we've got new policies that can persuade them to give us trust in 2015.

"Of course we'd have liked to have won more seats, but to bounce back in one term and have 291 gains we're very pleased with."

'Above pay grade'

Mr Khan said: "Look, I accept we should, and we must, do a lot better than we are, but the reason why people vote for UKIP was because they think politicians don't have the answer to the problems they face.

"They can see the fact that living standards are going down. They can see that their wages are not rising as fast as prices, and the challenge we have is to persuade people who do vote and those who don't vote that we can make a positive difference to their life."

Mr Khan said: "What you've got to you realise is between 1997 and 2010 we did some remarkable things in government, but also we lost 5m voters... we lost tens of thousands of members. We lost thousands of activists, we lost thousands of councillors.

"Our party was hollowed out by 2010. We've started the process of rebuilding our party. More than 50,000 new members, persuading them to become activists, persuading people to stand for council in shire elections where historically we've not done very well."

He highlighted successes in place such as Hastings, Harlow, Carlisle and Crawley where "we're going to win back in 2015 if we want to form the next government".

Mr Khan said it was "above my pay grade" to say whether in its next election manifesto Labour would offer a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.

But he did say the party's position was that it opposed the prime minister's idea of promising a referendum in 2017, because of the uncertainty caused to business.