Labour eyes 11 crucial seats in region as it hunts big majority

Rachel Reeves MP in Town Street, Horsforth.
Rachel Reeves MP in Town Street, Horsforth.
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LABOUR is targeting 11 seats in the region as it begins its push to secure a majority at the next General Election.

Rachel Reeves, Leeds West MP and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, launched Labour’s Yorkshire campaign yesterday in the Pudsey constituency it lost to the Tories in 2010.

Labour has identified 106 seats nationally where it will target its efforts, recruiting an army of volunteer organisers to mount campaigns focused at a community level.

Ms Reeves said: “It’s a very ambitious target but we are saying we are going for a majority of 60 in the next election which means winning seats we lost in 2010 and some we lost in 2005 like Leeds North West as well. We think we’ve got the policies and done the listening to be able to capture those seats back.

“We are going to be working flat out over the next two-and-a-half years to recapture those seats because people in those constituencies need a government on their side.”

Ms Reeves admitted many voters had lost faith with politicians in recent years and all parties face a challenge to win back their support.

She said: “It’s not just a challenge for the Liberal Democrats, A lot of people in Leeds West who I believe really benefited from 13 years of Labour government say to me ‘you’re all the same, it doesn’t make a difference which is in Government’.

“I think a lot of those people, with cuts to tax credits and the way they are being treated by this Government, are feeling let down. We need to show we are different.”

An eye-catching omission from the list is Bradford West which the party had held since 1974 until George Galloway won with a majority of more than 10,000 in last year’s byelection.

“Bradford West is one of the seats that we need to win back and we are confident and hopeful we can, not least because I don’t think George Galloway is doing the job the people of Bradford West elected him to do, turning up to vote, doing his surgeries and representing local people,” she said.

“We need to reconnect with voters, we need to understand why people left us in that byelection but I am confident we can and will learn those lessons.”

Ms Reeves, who was elected for the first time in 2010, has enjoyed a rapid rise to the top of the party and is tipped by some as a future leader.

She joined Labour activists in Horsforth’s Town Street yesterday gathering signatures on a petition protesting about the coalition’s approach to tax credits and Ms Reeves insisted the public’s attitude to the party had changed in recent months.

“It is a very different atmosphere out today than when we were here in 2010 when people felt let down by the last Labour government. They wanted to put their trust in someone else.

“They are now asking whether this Government have got the answers and many of them think they don’t and want to hear what we have to say,” she said.

The current Government is committed to holding the next election in 2015 but Ms Reeves insisted the start of campaigning now was not a sign Labour is expecting the Coalition to collapse soon.

“I would love it if David Cameron and Nick Clegg went out into the rose garden and said there’s going to be an election in two months. Whether it’s in two months or 2015, which is our baseline. we are putting in the work now to recapture those seats.”

“The election is going to be decided in places like Pudsey, Calder Valley, Brigg and Goole and Bradford East and that’s why we are focusing on those seats and bringing our message to people.”