Lisa Nandy has today announced her intention to enter the race to become the next Leader of the Labour Party.
In a letter sent exclusively to the Wigan Post, the town’s MP has set out her reasons for standing and also why she believes things must change if her party ever has a chance of regaining the trust of the country and winning another election.
Ms Nandy said she wanted her constituents to know first that she would be attempting to combine her work representing her constituency with a national party role.
In the letter she speaks of Labour’s long-established problems in what were once its electoral heartlands, saying last month’s general election drubbing at the hands of Boris Johnson’s Conservatives was “a long time coming”.
Labour slumped to its lowest House of Commons seat total since 1935 when the country went to the polls in December, with a string of seats which had returned MPs from the party for decades turning blue.
And Ms Nandy sets out her leadership stall by saying that the next person at the helm needs to come from those areas which feel neglected and are turning away from the red rose party, with a deep understanding of the problems the regions face.
She said: “I understand that we have one chance to win back the trust of people in Wigan, Workington and Wrexham.
“Without what were once our Labour heartlands we will never win power in Westminster and help to buld the country we know we can be.
“I have heard you loud and clear when you said to earn that trust means we need a leader who is proud to be from those communities, has skin in the game, and is prepare to go out, listen and bring Labour home to you.
“I wanted to tell you first that I’m standing to be leader of the Labour Party because after a decade of having the privilege to represent you, I have a deeper understanding of what has gone awry in our discredited political system.
“I’m standing because I know too many people in places like Wigan no longer feel they have a voice in our national story. So many of you have told me you believe many leaders are not interested in what you have to say and are unable - or unwilling - to understand your lives. I believe you are right.”
Ms Nandy writes she was heartbroken that so many working class constituencies had chosen the Conservatives over Labour at the last general election.
She criticises Westminster heavily in her leadership pitch, calling for devolution and decision-making abilities for “every town, city, region and nation in the UK”.
She says she wanted communities to be able to create a different future for themselves, not rely on top-down initiatives from governments.
She also speaks of Brexit, which has been a particularly thorny issue for Labour due to divisions between Remainers and Leavers, saying she was ready to make the argument for “decency, tolerance, kindness” as Britain leaves the European Union (EU).
Ms Nandy concludes her leadership letter with a reference to Wigan and how it has battled through hard times.
She said: “From the grassroots rugby league and football teams to the charities that have sustained people through the miners’ strike, pit closures and a decade of austerity, the belief that our community can be better has always been the driving force for change here in Wigan.
“We need a government that can match that ambition.”
So far shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow treasury minister Clive Lewis have formally announced they are in the leadership race, along with Ms Nandy.
Others considering a bid or being touted as candidates include shadow business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow
Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, party chairman Ian Lavery, outspoken Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips and Commons home affairs committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper.
In some quarters the leadership battle has been painted as a contest between metropolitan seats where Labour has done well under Mr Corbyn and regional heartlands constituencies where support has flatlined or declined steeply.
However, Ms Nandy urges the party in her letter not to give in to factionalism, outlining that Labour needs the support of left-wing and centre voters in both struggling working-class towns and affluent, liberal cities, despite their differences of opinion on a number of issues.
Who is Lisa Nandy MP?
Lisa Nandy became Wigan’s MP in 2010, the first woman to represent the constituency in parliament.
Born in Manchester in 1979, she studied at Holy Cross College in Bury before completing a degree in politics at Newcastle University and a Master’s in public policy at London institution Birkbeck.
Her interest in public life came as little surprise as she hailed from a political family, with her grandfather Frank Byers serving in the House of Commons for the Liberal Party and then becoming a life peer.
Her first professional involvement in politics was as a researcher and caseworker for Neil Gerrard, a fellow Greater Manchester native who served as Labour MP for Walthamstow in London.
She then worked in the voluntary sector as a researcher for homelessness charity Centrepoint and senior policy advisor at The Children’s Society, specialising in the latter role on issues facing young refugees.
While working at The Children’s Society she successfully stood for election for the first time, becoming a Labour councillor in Hammersmith and Fulham.
In four years serving Hammersmith Broadway ward she was made the council’s shadow cabinet member for housing.
She returned to the North West in 2010 when she was selected as Wigan’s parliamentary candidate for Labour, succeeding Neil Turner.
Chosen from an all-women shortlist, she was elected to parliament in May of that year, securing 48.5 per cent of the vote.
However, that was a drop of 9.6 per cent on the vote share recorded in the previous election in 2005.
Arriving in the House of Commons, Ms Nandy was appointed to the education select committee and made parliamentary private seecretary to shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell. She also served in the shadow cabinet for the children’s and charities briefs.
Ms Nandy was touted as a possible leadership candidate in 2015 after Ed Miliband resigned following general election defeat, but in the end she chose to endorse Andy Burnham.
She returned to the shadow cabinet in September 2015 under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, serving in the energy portfolio until June 2016 when she resigned along with a number of her colleagues.
Ms Nandy then decided to serve as co-chair of Owen Smith’s campaign when he stood against Mr Corbyn in an internal leadership battle, something which is still brought up online by Mr Corbyn’s supporters.
Her latest move in politics was to set up the Centre For Towns think tank in 2018, which aims to raise the profile of the issues places overlooked in favour of big cities face.
Her partner, Andy Collis, is a PR consultant and their son was born at Wigan Infirmary in April 2015.