June 19, 2020 / 9:34 AM / 15 days ago

Britain's opposition Labour faces 'mountain to climb' to win power

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s opposition Labour Party faces “a mountain to climb” to win power after haemorrhaging support to the governing Conservatives over its leadership, Brexit and manifesto at the last election, a review said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Keir Starmer, Britain's opposition Labour Party leader looks on during question period at the House of Commons in London, Britain June 3, 2020. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS/File photo

The review, led by Labour First which describes itself as bringing together all traditions of the leftist movement, was in response to last year’s electoral defeat, when Boris Johnson’s Conservatives made gains in the party’s traditional heartlands.

After electing a new leader, Keir Starmer, many in the party hope to end years of division to try to challenge Johnson’s majority in parliament by capitalising on the shortcomings of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

But the review issues a cautionary note - the party will need to do more to try to win back power after 10 years in opposition after the last Labour government.

“Our report echoes the consensus of many reports that a combination of views of our party leadership, Brexit and a manifesto that was not seen as credible sealed our defeat in 2019,” the report said, referring to former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“It would be a mistake to believe that a different leader, with Brexit no longer the defining issue, would in itself be sufficient to change Labour’s electoral fortunes.

“This loss is the story of more than one election - indeed it is a story that stretches back two decades.”

The report, based on survey responses, interviews with party figures and data, said the election loss was a “story that stretches back two decades”, compounded by fighting the 2019 election with no clear strategy.

“Our political strategy, organisation and campaigning infrastructure needs major overhaul,” the report said.

“We must not shy away from necessary and tough choices if we are to rebuild our relationship with the country and revolutionise the way we engage and listen to voters.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper

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