Labour had to be turned ‘inside out and backwards’ after poll defeats – Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he had to turn the party “inside out and backwards” after it lost four consecutive general elections.

During a question and answer session with port workers on Teesside, he was asked by Unite union convenor Mark Hannon about how the party had a “condescending approach” to working class voters in the past.

Mr Hannon, who has worked for PD Ports for more than 30 years, asked how Sir Keir would win back those “marginalised” voters at the next election.

Keir Starmer
Labour plans to deliver the most significant upgrade of Britain’s ports in a generation (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Speaking to around 100 workers in a warehouse beside the River Tees, Sir Keir said he welcomed the question, explaining: “We have lost four elections in a row.

“We lost in 2019 really badly.

“I looked at those results and I came to the same conclusion that you do – it was not the voters that got it wrong, it was the Labour Party that got it wrong.

Labour front bench
Sir Keir, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband visited Teesside (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“I don’t think we should go back to the voters and say: ‘Didn’t you hear us last time?’ and shout a bit louder.

“I said we should change the Labour Party and turn it inside out and backwards, because the Labour Party was set up to support working people, to fight for working people, and we drifted too far from that, and that’s why we got that result in 2019.”

Addressing Mr Hannon directly, Sir Keir said: “We didn’t feel we had the right to go back to the country and effectively say to voters like you: ‘You got it wrong” – no, we got it wrong.

“Your criticism of what we got wrong is bang on.”

The Labour leader, who was joined by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband, said speaking to workers was “comfy territory” for him, and preferable to being in Parliament.

He promised the party’s focus would be on creating secure jobs, tackling the cost-of-living crisis, public services and the NHS.

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir highlighted the fact Labour have lost the last four elections (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“That is the territory where most people have their conversations,” he said.

After Sir Keir’s reply, Mr Hannon told the PA news agency he approved of the answer.

He said: “He was quite condemnatory of the previous administration.

“I was taken aback.”