Labour Party Conference: Angela Rayner says Labour needs to 'listen to the voters'

Labour has “a long way to come back” to secure votes in rural seats again, the party’s Deputy Leader has admitted, with the opposition needing to “listen to the voters”.
Angela Rayner and Sir Keir StarmerAngela Rayner and Sir Keir Starmer
Angela Rayner and Sir Keir Starmer

Speaking ahead of the party’s annual conference which starts in Brighton today, Angela Rayner talked about the importance of local pride, and Labour needing to not take a one size fits all approach to getting communities where their vote has switched to the Conservatives back on board.

Although she did not think the party is in crisis in the countryside, when asked about attracting rural areas back she told The Yorkshire Post: “Labour has a long way to come back from, That's pretty clear from our election results.

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“We have to listen to the voters and see what the issue is and I think one of the things that I've learned is one size doesn't fit all.”

Reflecting on the pride and sense of identity people may feel not just about their town, but about their particular area or even set of streets Ms Rayner explained: “What works in one area might not necessarily transform and work for another.”

She pressed the need to ensure public services work to support the community alongside the private sector and added: ”I think, you know that's been lost, especially in a lot of rural areas, that feeling of, we want the fabric of our area to stay the same, but we need the public infrastructure and public services.”

Earlier this year Labour launched a rural policy review, with the party now holding only 17 rural or semi-rural seats, compared to the 170 plus that they had under Tony Blair in 1997.

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Speaking at the time, then-Shadow Environment Secretary Luke Pollard said: “The challenge is real, but we have done this before.”

He added: “So, that's why, starting with this review, we're looking at all our policies relating to rural communities. So that's a very big task.”

Ms Rayner will open the Labour Party annual conference with a speech on Saturday afternoon.

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