Politically Speaking - Yvette Cooper MP for Normanton Pontefract and Castleford
Labour needs to earn back trust and votes
Labour needs to listen and change. That’s the message we got loud and clear in the general election — both round here and across the country.
Our area urgently needs the investment in our NHS and action to tackle child poverty which only Labour will deliver.
But too many people across the country said they just didn’t want Labour to be in government this time.
So that means we let our communities down.
Lots of people round here told me they normally voted Labour but couldn’t this time – because of our leadership, because of Brexit or because they didn’t trust us.
On all those things we need to change.
Jeremy Corbyn is standing down, and Labour is electing a new leader who needs to pull the party together, stand up for real Labour values and show they can be a serious and trusted Labour prime minister who can deliver for Britain.
And the whole Labour Party needs to stand up for towns like ours which have been hard hit by Tory austerity, and which have been left out of new investment for too long.
Many people also told me how fed up they were about the wrangling over Brexit — they just wanted it done.
Parliament should have come together straight after the referendum and agreed a plan to implement the result with a sensible Brexit deal.
Instead we had three years of arguing on all sides and Labour ended up in a mess.
Meanwhile the campaign for a second referendum was wholly counter productive — it made it harder for us to get a sensible Brexit deal.
I argued against No Deal and called for a Brexit deal with a customs arrangement to support local manufacturing jobs and workers rights. But I know many people were cross and frustrated at all the delays and disagreements and we should have done much more to get a fair and sensible Brexit deal quickly agreed and in place.
Now we have to move on. The Labour Party needs to ditch any talk of referendums and be clear that the Leave/Remain argument is over. Britain is leaving the EU this month.
The issue is what kind of future relationships and trade deals we should seek with Europe and the world to support British manufacturing and workers rights.
We need to hold the Government to their promise to get good trade deals quickly in place.
We also have to get back to talking about the core issues that affect people round here — fighting for our NHS, schools and police, and for more investment in local jobs and in Yorkshire towns.
So far the government has refused to let most of our towns bid for money from the Towns Fund.
I’ve already told them that Knottingley urgently needs new investment in the town centre and we aren’t getting a fair deal.
In the end these are the things that Labour must always stand up for, and I believe these are the things that matter most round here.
That’s why I will work hard so Labour can earn back people’s trust and votes and fight for a fair deal for our towns.