Local Labour MP Lilian Greenwood visited the University of Nottingham on Friday 14th October to give a talk titled “Labour after Brexit: can it ever win back power?”.
The Labour Member of Parliament for Nottingham South, first elected in 2010, expressed little confidence in Jeremy Corbyn,“after a disastrous summer, I felt there needed to be a change of direction at the top”, and questioned the possibility of success under his leadership.
She did, however, note that the Conservative Party are having problems of their own caused by a referendum that she believed was about “party management”.
The talk then moved on to questions from the Honorary Professor John Hess on a variety of issues surrounding Brexit.
“Marmite-gate shows the economic dangers of Brexit”
When asked the question as to why Leave won, Lilian Greenwood stated “it felt like an emotional decision”; she suggested that a fear of communities changing and a lack of trust in Government meant people wanted to do something that truly sent a message to the elite that had forgotten about them.
“Marmite-gate shows the economic dangers of Brexit; with goods costing more at the supermarket [and] questions about jobs… [people] voted leave against [their] economic interests”.
Asked if this meant that Labour had to be more Brexit-minded, Greenwood agreed that Labour “must work out how to respond to the issues” which were not just about immigration, but a host of other themes including deindustrialisation.
“[We] didn’t anticipate places that don’t normally turnout, would turnout to vote leave”
A notable revelation came when she admitted that the campaign strategy had focused on convincing people deemed to be more sympathetic to their cause to vote, rather than reaching out to those who might need some persuading. “[We] didn’t anticipate places that don’t normally turnout, would turnout to vote leave”.
When asked about the economic consequences of leaving the European Union, the Labour MP cited that a huge fall in the pound and talks on restricting the number of foreign students did not give her confidence that the Government will be able to negotiate a good deal for the UK. “Brexit means Brexit is a ridiculous statement”.
Lilian Greenwood then fielded questions from the audience, with some criticising her Party’s behaviour and Referendum strategy to others asking about political issues such as Proportional Representation.
“[It will be] more difficult than if Corbyn wasn’t leader”
She defended her party’s record and confirmed that she does not want a second referendum as it would be undemocratic, as well as expressing wariness for a change in electoral systems.
Greenwood claimed some traditional voters in Clifton told door-steppers “[Jeremy Corybn] looks like he sleeps under a bridge… get rid of him”. “They don’t see him as a credible, strong, dependable leader”.
In her closing remarks, though Lilian Greenwood admitted that Labour has not been good enough, she backed her party to get its act together and still believes that they can win in 2020.
She stated that “[it will be] more difficult than if Corbyn wasn’t leader” but emphasised that politics today is in “a state of flux” and that Labour can and should recover for the good of the country.
Nick Scott and Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Image: Jeff Djevdet via Flickr