UK Politics

Labour 'losing touch with working class' - Conor McGinn

Labour Party flag Image copyright Getty Images

Working class voters feel that the Labour Party no longer understands them or their concerns, a Labour frontbencher has warned.

"They don't feel that anyone listens to them, never mind speaks for them," opposition whip Conor McGinn said.

He said the challenge facing leader, and Islington MP, Jeremy Corbyn was to relate to the rest of the UK.

Mr McGinn also warned that Labour could lose votes if it adopted an anti-nuclear weapons stance.

A review of the party's defence policy is under way. The Labour leader opposes Britain's Trident nuclear weapons system, but many of his MPs support its renewal.

Mr McGinn, who falls in to the latter category, warned: "Defence might not win you a lot of votes, but it can definitely lose you a lot of votes if you're not in the right place on it."

'Real problem'

In an interview with Parliament's House magazine, Mr McGinn, MP for St Helens North, said: "I think there is a political crisis that has engulfed what would be seen as the traditional Labour working class. They don't feel that anyone listens to them, never mind speaks for them.

"And I think that's a real problem for the Labour Party particularly. Sometimes it can seem that we're preoccupied with things that are insignificant to the population."

Labour, he said, needed to appeal to ordinary voters if it wanted to win elections.

"I think when you lose an election you should look at the reasons why and try, within the parameters of your own values, to move closer to the public, not further away from the public."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr McGinn said Mr Corbyn (pictured) needed to relate to voters across the UK - not just in Islington

He also set out what he saw as the "challenge" for Mr Corbyn, who after 30 years as a backbench MP representing the London constituency of Islington North was elected party leader in September 2015.

"I love London, and it's a fantastic city, and Islington is a great place," he said, "but it's not like the rest of the country".

"I think the challenge for Jeremy having been an MP for 30-odd years for a seat like Islington, is how he relates to the rest of the country," he added.

The MP also said many people wanted a secure job with a decent wage that enabled him to afford his own home, and an annual holiday or a new car.

"The problem with sections of the left is that they sneer at people like that," he said.

He added: "There is a patrician socialism that not only wants to tell working class people what's best for them, but what they should and shouldn't think.

"I think if we are to have a genuine revival in the politics of the left, then we need to start listening to people and hearing their truths."