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We lost. What a Relief!

Ed Miliband with wife Justine Thornton during the campaign

British Opposition Labour’s interim leader Harriet Harman said even people who supported Labour at the election were privately relieved afterwards that the party did not win power

Ed Miliband with wife Justine Thornton during the campaign
Ed Miliband with wife Justine Thornton during the campaign

In an interview with The Independent, Ms Harman admitted the widespread doubts about the party’s leadership and economic credibility cost it dearly.

She said Labour’s much-trumpeted 6m conversations with voters counted for little because the party had the “wrong message.”

“Many people felt Labour was not talking to them because it raised issues such as zero hours contracts, the living wage and food banks,”  she said.

Ms Harman has commissioned Deborah Mattinson, who was Gordon Brown’s pollster, to find out why voters spurned Labour and to assess their current mood as part of a no holds barred inquiry into the party’s crushing defeat.

Ms Harman said: “Sometimes after an election, you get a sense that people think ‘Oh my God, that is terrible, what a disaster.’ A lot of people felt that because we got nearly 40,000 new party members who were very disappointed. But there is an even greater number of people, even though they were not enthusiastic about David Cameron or the Tories, who feel relieved that we are not in government.  We have got to address it. It was not a blip.”

Labour faces three big regional challenges – the rise of  the SNP, a threat from Ukip in the North and Labour’s poor performance in the South. But Ms Harman believes  a common problem all over Britain was  that voters felt the party “doesn’t talk about me”.

Ed Miliband on campaign trail.
Ed Miliband on campaign trail.

Labour was seen as supporting “people on benefits” but not those who “work hard.” She said: “It doesn’t matter how many leaflets you deliver if the message is not right.”

Ms Harman, who will lead the party until Mr Miliband’s successor is elected in September, will remain neutral in the contest but is urging the party to choose the leader who will best connect with voters in 2020, rather than make Labour members “feel glowing about our principles and values.”  There will be televised hustings events open to people who did not back Labour last month


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