“This is Doctor Frasier Crane, sorry, Lisa Nandy, I’m listening, Leigh …”


“When I talk to all the people who have children who’ve had to move hundreds of miles away for work, who don’t know they’ll see their grandchildren and are growing older alone at the other end of the country. It breaks my heart.”

Lisa Nandy blasts Tories

Does Lisa Nandy know any young folk; people of working age or businessmen and women?

Worthless traditions of the ignorant tight ass club

I have no problem with my party consulting voters, informally or formally.

I do have a problem, I do object to my party outsourcing its conscience and, seemingly, much of our policy making to, say, a bunch of small minded, exclusive voters, often elderly, most of them white, many Leave voting, some racist, in a café in Leigh.

Standing there in public like you suddenly realise you have got your flies undone; apologising for your principles; reinforcing victimhood and despair, reflecting back the worst natures of some of the electorate, like you might just be agreeing with them is not leadership.

I call that an abrogation of responsibility, a lack of leadership.

Leadership is about setting out that for which you stand; making, arguing your case and ensuring it is the right offer for the country, the whole of the country.

If I were regenerating Leigh, I would want to involve the locals in the process from beginning to end.

I would want to take an inclusive approach and that means not biasing the process of engagement in favour of one particular group.

It also means having a conversation not simply taking down dictation.

And a conversation sometimes means, sensitively, challenging what you hear, and undertaking sense checks.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s fans believe their idol, who will not have a free and frank exchange of views with voters in a Leigh café would make a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson.

Not exactly a high bar, at a time of crisis.

Possibly the QC would best Vladimir Putin if he could get him into court?

Claire Ainsley, a Brexit supporter, whom Sir Keir Starmer QC appointed his chief policy adviser on becoming leader, was conducting similar focus groups in late 2019 to that of Nandy’s in Leigh earlier this year.

They were on the theme of moving on from Brexit.

Their members were drawn from overwhelmingly white local authority areas.

For those of us who have worked in socio-economic regeneration over the years, the participants trotted out the usual guff, the usual prejudice; the odd pearl of insight; the odd revelation; the useful alternative view; the usual ignorance about where they live and the usual evidence of how little they know about business and their local labour market.

Sir Keir Starmer QC has begun to mouth some of the lines from those focus groups.

The wrong lines.

The Blue Labour, Fings Ain’t What They Used To Be lyrics, singing a song that was a hit before many Leigh voters were born.

Lisa Nandy is a long standing champion of Blue Labour within the Labour Party and is now Labour’s point woman for the next General Election.

English Labour’s self styled expert on levelling up.

I recently came across Nandy’s plan to level up the (English) Midlands.

It is good to know she has finally found us.

Nandy’s plan was published in the Birmingham Evening Mail to coincide with the Erdington, Birmingham by election.

Now, as it happens, I was born and brought up in Birmingham and have lived here most of my life.

For much of my 27 year career in the Civil Service, I worked in socio-economic regeneration, what we adults like to call levelling up, as a Jobcentre official.

And for a lot of that time, Erdington was in my bailiwick, especially when I was the Employment Development Manager for the East Birmingham and Solihull Regeneration Zone, a regeneration vehicle of Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands.

Oh, and I am a lifelong member of the Labour Party, sometime activist, as well as having worked as a volunteer in Jack Dromey’s office for a good few years, ending my time there after the 2017 General Election.

I campaigned in the constituency whilst working for Jack Dromey.

Both sides of my family are from Kingstanding, a Red Wallish council ward within the Erdington constituency and I live just across the border from the ward in a neighbouring constituency.

However, even I lack the arrogance, sorry, the confidence of a Nandy to knock out a regeneration plan for a by election campaign.

Lisa “Down Your Way” Nandy is not a first offender, though.

Nandy, by the way, is from Manchester via Wigan.

Let us consider Nandy’s Five Point Plan for Erdington.

“First, jobs. Good opportunities must be spread throughout the country and indeed throughout our big cities, so young people have choices and chances and don’t find themselves having to get out to get on. With the right investment and community-led regeneration, jobs and opportunities will begin to thrive. Last week I saw exactly this in Grimsby, where a major local employer was investing in green technology for the future and providing secure, well-paid jobs for local people.

Labour in government would take this example and put clean-energy rocket boosters on it. We’d invest £28 billion each year in green projects across the country, creating more jobs and apprenticeships in industrial and coastal towns.”

We wait with bated breath for the detail as to how the ex SpAd with no background in business would honour these pledges in the context of a Hard Brexit.

What is a good job opportunity?

How does one define community led regeneration when all the people associated with your think tank on Small Towns have no insight into socio-economic regeneration?

Nandy does at the beginning of her article describe, “Places that once powered the country have been neglected. GKN on the Chester Road in Erdington is moving operations abroad. Dunlop Goodyear moved out of the area years ago.”

A nice bit of local colour.

Nandy omits to mention that the 519 jobs at GKN are being transferred to Poland.

To be within the Single Market, outside of which Sir Keir Starmer QC says Britain will be for the rest of Rachel Reeves‘ life.

It comes to something when a Labour leader feels incapable of making the case for joining a (trades) union in 2022.

How one wonders will Sir Keir Starmer QC react when a manufacturing worker and shop steward who has lost her job to the Hard Brexit he has embraced, bursts through his cordon of minders and asks what Labour in Government would do for her future job prospects?

Mumble unsympathetically, “Buy, make and sell more in Britain” or pledge to “Make (Hard) Brexit Work”?

Sir Keir Starmer QC has hardly been a great advocate for business since he became Labour leader in April 2020.

Brexit is not mentioned once in Nandy’s article.

Green jobs?

“… manufacturer of cutting edge green radiators says the expansion of his factory in Birmingham will now take place in Poland.”

Brexit: One year on, the economic impact is starting to show

Incidentally, as of March 2022, the UK has growing labour and skill shortages and 1.298 million unfilled vacancies, a UK record, but Nandy clearly likes a challenge so she aims to top that number.

You will notice the classic ignorant politician’s reference to apprenticeships?

Ainsley’s focus groups swooned at their mention, but being good, honest folk, horny handed men and women of toil, they felt too many employers wanted degrees as entry level qualifications.

A line Sir Keir Starmer QC, Oxford University, has begun reciting himself.

Improving the quality of management unsurprisingly did not come up in Hastings or Leigh.

“Second, thriving high streets. We need to see local economies growing, with good local businesses. That means no more papering over the cracks. It’s why Labour has set out plans to help 100,000 new small businesses get off the ground.”

Let me get this right, Labour’s answer to folk losing their jobs and people transferring business operations, if not businesses abroad or going bust is to go out of its way to encourage people to start up in business?

The attrition rate for new business start ups is about 60% by the end of the third year after commencement.

Nandy’s 100,000 might be 40,000 by the start of their fourth year of life.

I am assuming we are talking about 100,000 new start ups across the United Kingdom during a four, maybe five year Parliament.

There are 2,480,140 micro-enterprises in the UK.

“Third, our suburbs, towns and villages must be better connected through better transport links, digital infrastructure and affordable housing. For too long, we have missed out or seen promises rowed back on.”

Hard Brexit limits what may be practically achieved.

You may not lay bricks in a time of scarce bricklayers, HGV drivers and, well, bricks. Neither Labour nor the Tories are willing to publicly admit how much circumscribed they are by the deal the one negotiated and the other endorsed.

Labour and the Conservatives are trying to con voters into believing they may deliver outside of EU and in the context of a Hard Brexit, many policies that are only really deliverable with EU or at least SM/CU membership.

At a time when sizeable numbers of Leave voters say Brexit is not working for them.

“Fourth, power. For years, people have felt that politics simply isn’t interested in them. That too often, politicians come in and tell them what they need. This must end. Labour would hand communities the power and money to decide for themselves, ending the system where they had to go cap-in-hand to Westminster to do things they knew would work.”

There are some types of devolution Nandy likes and there are others as she has publicly stated she most certainly does not.

Twice recently in a list of places Nandy says are ripe for levelling up, she has included nowhere below a line between Wigan and Grimsby, but has included Aberdeen which the last time I looked was still in Scotland.

Michael Gove too hankers to extend his brief beyond England and is using the United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund as a means to sideline the devolved administrations.

Do we see an area of common ground developing between Nandy and Gove?

Nandy has a novel take on localism, seemingly chatting with some old fogies in a café in Leigh, Lancashire, and then drawing up socio-regeneration plans for places like Yorkshire.

Gove with his eye on Number Ten, in contrast, communes with the thoughts of prominent Italians of 15th Century Italy.

Nowhere in Wales features on Nandy’s lists, but there be dragons or more accurately adults (in the Labour Party) who know about taking a measured, informed, inclusive approach to socio-economic regeneration.

“And finally, safety. Labour will bring back neighbourhood policing to ensure our town centres and shopping areas are safe and welcoming rather than plagued by anti-social behaviour. The Tory record on crime is appalling, with criminals being let off and victims let down.”

Machiavelli once wrote that “The first opinion that is formed of a ruler’s intelligence is based on the quality of the men (and women) he has around him …”.

How then should we judge Sir Keir Starmer QC, based on the quality of those he has appointed to be around him?

We have been told, the membership of the Labour Party by our leadership that we must now kowtow to the Red Wall and embrace Hard Lexit to win power, but taking an extreme position on trans rights that most in the trans community do not seem to hold themselves will not, it seems, be a vote loser in, say, Leigh or Nandy’s Wigan?

Maybe I have misjudged some of those habitues of that café in Leigh?

But, if I have then so has Nandy and that bodes ill for Labour’s Red Wall First strategy.

Maybe they are not all socially (or economically) conservative?

I am sure they do not want to eat crap, even on the off chance of being able to sell some more steel to the USA!

Sir Keir Starmer QC likes to wax lyrical about his Dad having been a toolmaker

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