Labour leadership candidate Sir Keir Starmer has warned that the blame for the party’s 2019 general election defeat cannot be pinned squarely on the campaign alone, and that the party must win back the trust of voters “as a force for good and a force for change” to win a general election.
Sir Keir highlighted that it was the party’s fourth successive defeat in the polls and that for a “long time” votes in its traditional heartlands had been in decline.
Speaking to the BBC, Sir Keir said that voters wanted to see “fundamental change” but did not see Labour as the party capable of seeing it through, adding that the party must end the squabbling among its various factions.
He said: “In the end people didn’t have trust in us. Partly that was to do with the leadership, rightly or wrongly, partly it was to do with Brexit, anti-Semitism came up, and the overload of the manifesto.
"I want to lead a Labour Party that is trusted enough to bring about fundamental change. I don't need somebody else's name or badge to do that.
“We need to unify the party and I think I can do that. We spent far too much time fighting ourselves and not fighting the Tories. Factions have been there in the Labour Party - they've got to go.”
Sir Keir said that as leader he would oppose the “gross inequality” in British society and ensure “equal opportunity for everyone”, in spite of their place of origin and background.
Despite some Labour voters blaming the election loss on the party leadership’s Brexit policy, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir has already won the endorsement of Unison, Britain’s largest union.
Addressing the party’s approach to Brexit , Sir Keir said: "We were trying to bring together both sides whether they voted Leave, or they voted Remain.
"But I think the idea that Brexit was the only issue in this election is wrong, or even that in our heartlands it was the determining factor because actually if you look at what's happened in our heartlands we've been losing votes there for a long time.”
Sir Keir and the other leadership contenders, who consist of Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry, Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy, must secure the support of five per cent of local parties or alternatively at least three affiliates [including two unions] by February 14 in order to qualify for the final round of voting.
The vote will then be extended to the party’s wider membership, with the result announced on April 4.
The party’s Momentum pressure group has thrown its weight behind shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.