The Labour Leadership race rumbles on, and the party is down to its final three candidates: Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy.
The race has entered its final stage, and Labour members and supporters now have until 2 April to vote for the next leader of the opposition.
We spoke to two Sheffield Labour MPs; Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, and Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam, to find out who they are supporting in the leadership race and what lessons they thought Labour needed to learn from the 2019 General Election.
At Keir Starmer’s return to the campaign trail last week, Sheffield Central’s Labour MP explained to JUSNews why he had given him his support.
Paul Blomfield said he had worked with Mr Starmer, within his shadow ministerial team, for 15 years.
“That doesn’t mean my support’s automatic. What it does mean is that I’ve had the opportunity to see how he works, what he’s like, what his values are. And that convinces me that he’s the right person to lead the party in the challenging circumstances we find ourselves now,” he said.
The Sheffield Central MP went on to explain where he believed Labour had gone wrong in the recent General Election.
He said: “I think most people agree that the leadership failed to cut through. That we allowed Johnson to polarise the election on Brexit, and that we had a manifesto which, although it had many individually popular policies in it, was together not seen as deliverable.”
Mr Blomfield then explained what he thought was needed for Labour to run a successful campaign.
He said: “Having a leader that people can look at, and say I want that person to be Prime Minister. Having a policy platform which loses none of the radicalism, that has the credibility that people say, yeah that will make a difference in my life and I believe that government can deliver it.”
The Labour MP went on to explain the unique qualities he believed Mr Starmer had.
He said: “What Keir offers is a depth of understanding, and a depth of experience. Now this is someone who went from a very ordinary background, to be one of the country’s top human rights lawyers.
“He didn’t use his law degree to make shed loads of money to work for corporates. He used it to take on the corporates.
“Whether is was McDonalds, whether it was backing striking miners, whether it was supporting environmentalists, environmental activists, he used his skills, often pro bono, to take on corporate power.”
Olivia Blake, Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, meanwhile has voiced her support for Rebecca Long-Bailey in the leadership race. In a statement to JUS News, she explained why.
She Said: “I’m backing Becky and Angela because they’re the candidates best placed to win back the trust of those who’ve felt betrayed by our party’s Brexit position.
“And, from everything they’ve said and everything I’ve seen from them, I know that they are the best candidates to unite our diverse heartlands, and win us a Labour government.”
Ms Blake reflected on the fact that Labour had bucked the national trend in the recent general election and gained the Sheffield Hallam constituency.
She said: “We won in Sheffield Hallam because we—our people-powered campaign—managed to show people that our socialism is a sensible, credible socialism, and we managed to rebuild people’s trust in Labour.”
The Hallam MP went on to explain why she thought Labour had faced defeat nationally in the 2019 election.
She said: “We were always going to be up against it in an election defined by Brexit, and we saw the result of that on 12th December, when communities in party’s heartlands, in seats that have always voted Labour turned their back on us because they couldn’t us to deliver on Brexit. But they also didn’t trust us when we said that Labour meant real change.
“That lack of trust wasn’t new for this election, but has been a long-time coming. It’s a huge problem that some people feel like they only see their local Labour Party at election time, and that the reputation of many Labour councils across the country—because their budgets have been hollowed out by cut after cut—has become toxic for many.”
Olivia Blake then turned to discuss what the Labour party needed to do in the future.
She said: “In order to win the next election, we must move well beyond the Westminster bubble—to show that we’re not a party led by a London elite. We need to convince people once again that a vote for Labour will transform their lives, and that won’t just come through fighting in the Commons.”