Labour suffered a humiliating electoral failure in the December 12 general election. Jeremy Corbyn lost 59 seats – the most devastating result for a Labour leader since 1935. The veteran left-winger apologised to his supporters and said he will step down early this year.
Emily Thornberry, Clive Lewis, Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips and Sir Keir Starmer are confirmed candidates for the leadership race.
As the battle for the future of the party begins with Mr Starmer topping the polls, a throwback speech by Stephen Kinnock has resurfaced, in which the MP for Aberavon said there is a reason why the Labour Party is not successful.
Mr Kinnock – one of the “infamous” 19 Labour MPs still calling for compromise on Brexit despite his party’s official policy of a second referendum – claimed in 2016 that Jeremy Corbyn had to stop “obsessing” about diversity if he was to get the support of white working class votes needed to win an election.
The Labour MP claimed his party needed to stop practicing “identity politics” and “understand the role of the state is to manage immigration”.
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Speaking at the London School of Economics, Mr Kinnock said Labour had to learn from Hillary Clinton’s defeat to Donald Trump.
He said: “We have been a party that has been increasingly associated with standing up for certain groups in our society and not standing up for all in our society.
“We’ve been obsessing about diversity.
“The huge mistake we’ve made, we have played the game of identity politics and identified groups, whether it is by ethnicity or sexuality or whatever you might want to call it, rather than say, ‘we stand up for everyone in this country and that includes you, the white working class’.
“What we need to see in the progressive Left in the country is an end to this identity politics.
“We need to be talking far more about commonality rather than what differentiates from each other – let’s talk about what unites us.
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Labour MP for Aberavon Stephen Kinnock
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
“Every group is actually struggling with the same problems of social mobility, the same problems of disempowerment, the same problems of feeling that they are being left behind.
“It doesn’t matter what the colour of your skin is or what your background is.
“What matters is that you’re poor and you’re disadvantaged and we’ve got to be there to help and engage with every single one of you – not just those who seem to have been taken priority over others.”
Mr Kinnock also claimed that Hillary Clinton’s mistake in the 2016 US presidential election was to “shout out” to the Latino community, the African American community and others during her campaign but not others.
He added: “If you are going to do it, you better make sure you list of every group in your population.
“If you don’t – the results will be very clear at the ballot box.”
Mr Starmer, though, who officially entered the Labour leadership contest on Sunday, appears to believe the opposite of what Mr Kinnock described.
In a 1987 editorial, unearthed by Twitter account “Corbyn in The Times”, the now Labour leadership hopeful analysed his party’s electoral failings.
Writing for the socialist newspaper Socialist Alternatives, Mr Starmer said Labour would have lost the general election against Margaret Thatcher because it was not “plural” enough.
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MP for Wigan Lisa Nandy
He said: “The Left needs new values.
“One such value must be pluralism (a highly positive concept).
“Where Thatcherism promotes only one type of successful individual, socialism should project a multitude of them.
“Where Thatcherite individualism leads to uniform yuppiedom, socialism should advance to a new type of individualism where the individual, instead of being repressed by society, is positively encouraged to develop freely her/his own individuality.
“The Left must now regroup around those basic values that will allow it to project all the positive experiences of the past few years into a broad project addressing itself to the whole of the people of Britain.”
However, Mr Starmer, who at the time had just become a barrister at the Middle Temple, noted: “A majority can only be built by projecting itself as a potential majority, i.e. in terms that can relate to everyone in the community of the oppressed.
“Hence, an alternative socialist hegemony will not be constructed by replacing the working class as the agent for socialist transformation by blacks, lesbians and gays and so on, but by advancing values that can appeal to all minorities” while projecting a positive image to the rest of society.”
It appears Mr Kinnock will not be backing Mr Starmer in this year’s leadership race as he has publicly stated the next Labour leader should be a woman.
He also hinted at a future endorsement, telling BBC Radio Wales: “Colleagues such as Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips have a great story to tell.”