Lisa Nandy says Labour has 'moved away from the people'
A cursory glance at the maps below will show just how dramatically the Labour Party has fallen out of favour in regions formerly considered stalwarts of party support. The loss of Hartlepool - a Labour constituency since its creation in 1974 - in the recent by-election on May 6 is seen by many as another nail in the party's coffin, as party members wonder what it might take to breathe life back into the party once favoured by the working classes.
The local council results were equally discouraging for the party. Final results saw Labour losing control of eight councils and more than 300 seats in England.
According to data analysed by the BBC, the local election results, if translated to a UK-wide vote share, would leave Labour with a 29 percent vote share in a general election.
This would be mildly better than the disaster of 2019, but shows the party has a lot more to do than a change of leadership.
However, the party continues to perform well in England's cities and biggest regions, with insiders saying are forming the new 'Labour heartland' map after the Brexit referendum.
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Labour Party losses: What the 'red wall' now looks like
This pro-city sentiment, however, might be damaging Labour in the red wall regions.
A study conducted at the end of 2020 by the group Labour for the North said Labour must tackle the "perception" that it doesn't represent northern areas anymore.
The report concluded that some of the red wall seats lost to the Conservatives in 2019 “may be lost for good” unless it tackles a deep-rooted “northern problem”, including “the perception that we are a London-centric party”.
The report warns: “If not addressed, these figures signal a continuous decline.
Labour Party losses: Results from the local authority elections
"The constituencies and communities, which for so long we took for granted, have fundamentally changed.
“These places began to fall to the Tories in 2017 before leaving Labour en masse in 2019.
"Unless we recognise how and why, there is a potential that they may be lost for good.
"Without understanding what isn’t working for us on a local level, we cannot hope to win back power nationally.”
Other issues cited for the change of allegiance is Brexit, as communities who voted to leave the EU punish Labour for their lack of direction on the matter.
And this isn't limited to the North - the Tories took seats such as Harlow and Basildon in Essex, which voted by 69 percent to leave the EU, and Cornwall, which voted to leave by 57 percent.
This sentiment was acknowledged by Dr Paul Williams, the first Labour candidate in Six decades to lose the Hartlepool seat to the Conservatives.
Dr Williams blamed his loss on a "brutally effective" Conservative campaign and a lack of clarity over Labour's values.
Labour Party losses: Results from the England council elections
Labour Party losses: How the UK has changed
He told The Times: "I've heard clearly that people don't know what Labour stands for.
"We now have to define clearly what and who we are."
Dr Williams urged the party to fill its "credibility gap" with the electorate, saying voters no longer believed Labour "helps working people".
He said: "People told me they had lost confidence in 'brand Labour' years ago'."