United Kingdom

Labour MPs slam 'out of touch' Lisa Nandy over 'woke' comments

Labour MPs have slammed Lisa Nandy as 'patronising' and 'out of touch' after she accused Boris Johnson of 'trying to start a culture war over a statue of Churchill' and praised Joe Biden as a 'woke guy'. 

The shadow foreign secretary claimed the Prime Minister has 'managed to trash our reputation' as a 'values-driven' country as she praised the new US President. 

She said Mr Biden had 'appointed an amazingly strong woman of colour who is also pro-choice as his running mate, he mentioned the trans community in his victory speech, he stood up for the Black Lives Matter protesters'. 

But Labour MPs suggested Ms Nandy should be focusing on issues that are 'top of the agenda' for working class voters like 'surviving and making sure their kids get a good education' as they warned people do not want to be 'lectured'.

The statue was sprayed with graffiti during a Black Lives Matter protest last June and was then boarded up ahead of more protests. 

Ms Nandy's suggestion that Mr Johnson had attempted to start a 'culture war' on the issue was blasted by Tories who said 'Labour may think it's wrong to stand up to mobs attacking a statue of our great wartime leader, we do not'.

Lisa Nandy has accused Boris Johnson of having 'managed to trash our reputation' as a 'values-drive' country

Ms Nandy claimed Mr Johnson had attempted to 'start a culture war over a statue of Churchill'

Who is shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy?

Lisa Nandy, 41, has been the Labour MP for Wigan since 2010 and she saw her political profile surge after taking part in the party's leadership contest last year. 

Ms Nandy ultimately finished third behind Rebecca Long-Bailey and the winner Sir Keir Starmer. 

But she was immediately appointed by Sir Keir to the key role of shadow foreign secretary - one of the four most important positions in the shadow cabinet. 

She was the only leadership candidate in the final run-off who was not at the time in the shadow cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn. 

Ms Nandy was a vocal critic of the handling of the anti-Semitism crisis that blighted the party in recent years, accusing her rivals of not doing enough to speak out while serving in Mr Corbyn’s top team. 

She comes from political stock, with her maternal grandfather having been a Liberal MP while her father, Dipak Nandy, is a Marxist racial equalities campaigner.

Before her election in 2010, Ms Nandy worked for the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint and The Children’s Society. 

Having founded the Centre For Towns think tank, she has been outspoken about the need to win back Labour’s former industrial heartlands where voters switched in their droves to the Conservatives at the last election. 

She was elevated to the Labour frontbench for the first time in 2013 as she served as a junior education minister and then as a Cabinet Office minister when Ed Miliband was leader.

She became shadow energy secretary in 2015 but departed the role in 2016 and stayed on the backbenches for the remainder of Mr Corbyn's leadership. 

Speaking to The Guardian, Ms Nandy said of Mr Johnson: 'On every occasion he's managed to trash our reputation as a country that is reliable, dependable and values-driven.'

Referring to the Charlottesville protests in the US, she said: 'Two years later we had the prime minister here trying to start a culture war over a statue of Churchill and also exactly the same pattern of behaviour in relation to trans rights… in 2019, No10 was polling the red walls to see if it could start a culture war in northern towns over LGBT rights.'

Praising the new US President, she said: 'Joe Biden – he's a woke guy, he appointed an amazingly strong woman of colour who is also pro-choice as his running mate, he mentioned the trans community in his victory speech, he stood up for the Black Lives Matter protesters, he spoke out about the policing of that movement, and he's never shied away from standing up for his values.'

One northern Labour MP told MailOnline that Ms Nandy was 'lightweight' and 'patronising' to voters in Red Wall areas.

They warned that the focus on trans rights and 'woke' issues was 'out of touch', joking that they were not getting stopped in the street and asked about those things.

They said: 'She is very lightweight. The problem is the so-called metropolitan elite misunderstand about working class communities. 

'They are quite tolerant, but it's not top of their agenda. Top of their agenda is surviving and making sure their kids get a good education.'

The MP added: 'It is a bit patronising to talk about it the way she does. You have got to talk about what people want to talk about… how do you improve the local communities. 

'They want their kids to do better than they did… they don't want to be lectured to. It's just patronising.'

Mr Johnson responded to the statue of Churchill being defaced by warning at the time that 'we cannot now try to edit or censor our past'.

'The Conservatives will always stand up for our culture, history and traditions.' 

A statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, Westminster, was sprayed with graffiti during protests last year

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson last night declared 'there's nothing wrong with being woke' after he was asked if the label could be applied to Mr Biden. 

He said: 'I can't comment on that. What I know is that he's a firm believer in the transatlantic alliance and that's a great thing.

'There's nothing wrong with being woke but what I can tell you is that I think it's very, very important for everybody to… I certainly put myself in the category of people who believe that it's important to stick up for your history, your traditions and your values, the things you believe in.'

His comments came after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick decried 'town hall militants and woke worthies' as he announced laws to protect monuments after the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. 

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