A Labour leader who can represent working-class interests | Letters

Lisa Nandy is the candidate best able to engage and listen to voters, says Giles Oakley, while Peter McKenna believes the party has become too middle-class. Plus letters from Les Bright, Geoff Debelle, Simon Warne and Ian Sinclair

It’s good to see the admirable Suzanne Moore writing in support of Lisa Nandy as a candidate for the leadership of the Labour party (Will Labour pick the wonderful Lisa Nandy? I doubt it, G2, 21 January). I didn’t agree with Nandy over Brexit, when, despite her own remain position, she spoke up for the leave camp in line with her constituents’ views, but I was deeply impressed by her honourable and ethical exposition of the case. She was always steadfast and articulate in House of Commons debates, even when under fire from remainers in her own party.

For some time Nandy has been speaking up with equal eloquence on behalf of “left behind” towns that have struggled in comparison with the big urban conglomerations and urgently need help. She has shown that she really does listen to people, not just passively, but to engage with their circumstances and their experiences. I believe she’s easily the best candidate for Labour leader.
Giles Oakley

• Working-class people are massively underrepresented in parliament: while in the past MPs and members of the party that identify as such would often come from the trade union movement, Labour is now 77% middle class (Stop trying to ‘out-working-class’ each other, Labour candidates told, 18 January).

Taking positive action to redress that imbalance would not be questioned if such a discrepancy related to ethnicity or gender. However, class is also important because the British class divide is so sharp – and too many members and candidates of all parties have no knowledge of working-class lives.
Peter McKenna

• Candidates for the leadership of the Labour party should stop competing with one another for whose past looks most authentically working-class. Labour is, or used to proudly claim to be, the party of social mobility – equality of opportunity has meant that access to higher education provided routes to jobs and incomes beyond the reach of their parents.

By the time that they have been elected to a parliamentary seat, they will know that “the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there” – one of the challenges facing the eventual winner will be to ensure that such opportunities exist for the generations who follow behind them.
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon

• Rebecca Long-Bailey steers perilously close to George Osborne’s “strivers verses shirkers” rhetoric when she enlists the help of a working-class Salford couple who have “worked hard and bought their own house” to her ideas for a more “aspirational” Labour. “People don’t see themselves as destitute and struggling”, she says (Report, 23 January). Yes, but many are destitute. Could I suggest Labour lower their sights and work towards everyone having food, shelter, security and a reasonable income?
Dr Geoff Debelle

• Rebecca Long-Bailey launched her campaign with the inspirational phrase “our path to power” (Journal, 17 January). However, these words ring hollow when put beside the realities of the current electoral system. With the Liberal Democrats running second in around 100 seats, unless concerted cross-party collaboration starts now, the next election is already lost.

What is required is not talk of heartfelt ideology and burnished principles. Instead we need compromise and some sort of pact where, in each constituency, the opposition party that is best placed to fight the Tories is not opposed. This needs to be done at the outset, before prospective candidates have even been selected.
Dr Simon Warne
Formby, Merseyside

• If, as Zoe Williams argues (All Labour’s factions are fragile, but unity is still possible, Journal, 21 January), Keir Starmer is “anti-triangulation, socialist but not purist, the antithesis of the career politician who came to define the 00s”, why did Starmer, as the director of public prosecutions, publicly support increasing jail sentences for the perpetrators of social security and tax credit fraud in 2013, abstain on the 2015 welfare bill when a number of Labour MPs voted against it, and vote for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system in 2016?
Ian Sinclair

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