GB News presenter and former Labour MP Gloria de Piero says Keir Starmer's party needs to 'rediscover its northern soul'

A Yorkshire-born former Labour MP says the party needs to "rediscover its northern soul" after its disastrous loss of seats across Yorkshire and the North in the 2019 General Election.

Gloria de Piero, who this month goes on air as one of the presenters of new TV channel GB News, said Labour under Sir Keir Starmer needed to knock on doors in its former northern heartlands "and actually try to seek to understand the people that it was founded to represent".

The Bradford-born former political journalist represented the former mining community of Ashfield in north Nottinghamshire between 2010 and 2019 before resigning as an MP before the election.

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Gloria de Piero, who this month goes on air as one of the presenters of new TV channel GB News, said Labour under Sir Keir Starmer needed to knock on doors in its former northern heartlands "and actually try to seek to understand the people that it was founded to represent". Pic: Getty images

Her seat went on to be taken by the Conservatives for the first time since the 1970s, one of a number won by Boris Johnson's party in the so-called 'red wall' of areas with previously imposing Labour majorities.

Ms de Piero told The Yorkshire Post that the loss of so many Labour MPs in the North and Midlands meant there were fewer people to argue the case about issues like bus services and lack of National Lottery funding.

She said: "I remember, I've had so many difficult conversations with voters in in Ashfield, people who would say 'Oh, my dad was a miner, he would turn in his grave if I didn't vote Labour, but I can't vote Labour', and it came time and time again on the doorstep.

"And this one former miner, he's called Ken and I spoke to him after 2019 when I wasn't a candidate, but I tried to campaign for the Labour candidate to help her. She didn't win.

"But I remember him saying, he was in his 80s and had voted Tory for the first time in his life. I said 'Ken, why, what do you think of the Labour Party,' and he says, 'it's just for London and students now, isn't it?'

"Obviously it's not, but for Ken to come to that conclusion. I just kept thinking about those words, that somebody who could change their vote aged 80-plus because he didn't Labour understood them anymore.

"I mean Brexit was a big part of that clearly, I think that might have been the final insult because most working class people voted to leave. I voted to remain but respected the result.

"And I think how Labour deals with that is really important because if you want Brexit to fail you want Britain to fail. So Labour's got to be talking about how to make this successful, they've got to want it, to feel it, and want it to work because what's the alternative, that it goes really badly and people are in pain. You've got to want to make it work or you don't want Britain to work."

She said only Labour could change the way it is perceived by voters and though it was good that it still had strong representation in cities, it needed to do more to win back voters in its old heartlands.

She said: "It's possible and I'll give you an example of what is possible. So in the 80s and 90s, we, the Labour Party, were weighing votes in Ashfield and Barnsley and Doncaster etc. And they said 'hang on a minute, we've got a problem here, because nobody in the South would vote for us'.

"And they were quite laser-like focused on winning those seats, it was about 'Worcester Woman' and they said 'right, what do we do here, because these people don't like us very much'.

"And it's going to be the same, it was called 'southern discomfort' as the Labour Party had back in the 80s and early 90s. Well, now it's time for Labour to rediscover its northern soul.

"You did it, you sorted out the negative so you could win those swing seats that you needed to win, now sort out your negatives and win back your heartlands.

"Because it's not just losing seats, what happened at the last election, it was losing part of its soul, because those seats said something about the Labour Party. Their residents were the people that they were founded to represent."