Former Nottinghamshire Labour MP who lost under Corbyn says party now electable

Lord Vernon Coaker pictured in Nottingham city centre wearing a black coat
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)

A former Nottinghamshire Labour MP who largely blamed Jeremy Corbyn for his dramatic election loss in 2019 says the party now has an "electable" leader. Lord Vernon Coaker served as the Labour MP for Gedling for 22 years before losing the seat at the 2019 general election, with former Labour strongholds including Bassetlaw and Ashfield also turning to the Conservatives.

Speaking immediately after his election loss in 2019, Lord Coaker told Nottinghamshire Live: "I think Jeremy Corbyn will have to consider his position with such a bad result for Labour. Nothing went wrong with our campaign. People obviously raised the issue of leadership - that was raised on a number of occasions."

Under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, the former Gedling MP was invited to join the House of Lords as Labour's shadow spokesperson for home affairs and defence. Speaking about the mood in Nottinghamshire ahead of the general election on Thursday (July 4), Lord Coaker said: "It's a massive change. Clearly Jeremy Corbyn was what he was, but we've now got a leader that's electable.

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"We've now got a leader that's changed the Labour Party. You can't underestimate the change that Keir Starmer has brought to the Labour Party in a positive, good way. Hopefully we'll see that reflected on Thursday."

Lord Coaker served as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary for a time under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of Labour, before resigning his post in 2016 due to disagreements with him.

Speaking previously to Nottinghamshire Live about his time in the shadow cabinet, Lord Coaker said: "I don't regret joining the shadow cabinet because the hope and the expectation after 2015 was that, with the responsibility of being leader of the Labour Party, [Corbyn would] acknowledge and realise the change that was needed and that he needed to lead the party in a way that recognised the position he had. From my perspective, he didn't do that."

Although he has been out on the doorsteps across Nottinghamshire campaigning for Labour, it is his former seat of Gedling that Lord Coaker will be watching particularly closely. The Conservative candidate, Tom Randall, had used his first comments after defeating Lord Coaker in 2019 to pay tribute to his predecessor, saying: "I could ask for no better role model than my predecessor, Vernon Coaker. He has been an outstanding constituency worker and will be a tough act to follow, but I will do my very best."

After five years in post, Mr Randall will now be up against Michael Payne for Labour, who currently serves as Gedling Borough Council's deputy leader and as a Nottinghamshire county councillor. Asked how Gedling in particular will go, Lord Coaker added: "We're hopeful.

"The campaign there has been very good and so we will see what happens, but I hope that 2019 was just a blip and that we move on and Michael Payne gets selected." Below are all the candidates, presented in alphabetical order by surname, for Gedling.

  • Green Dominic Berry

  • Reform Simon Christy

  • Liberal Democrats Tad Jones

  • Independent Irenea Marriott

  • Labour Michael Payne

  • Conservative Tom Randall