After the historic results on election night, there were bound to be major shakeups inside the Labour party. With hours of shock and defeat for the Labour Party which put them back to the third largest party in the Commons, a party leader had resigned paving the way for the leadership race. The race off front runner lily cemented her position as her favorite and won the election. Now with the formation of a Burple government and Labour limping back into Millbank Tower as Official Opposition albeit this time with the DRF, the Telegraph sat down with the newly appointed Labour head Lily to discuss the future of their party and the country.
Tres Commas: First off congrats on your win. Where do you plan to take the party to recover what can be coined as disappointing results? And for what purpose or main goal did the party elect you for?
Lily: Thank you very much, it’s a real honour to have been elected as the next leader of the Labour Party. You’re right, we lost three seats at the last general election, which for a party that had the lead in the polls during the term was certainly a disappointing result. I don’t think that the losses were as a result of the party membership, the organisers, the candidates, or the campaigners. Everyone worked incredibly hard throughout the election and I was very proud of all of our candidates, regardless of the results. Our primary issue, I feel, was delivering a message that voters could engage with. We presented a manifesto that had a lot of individually good policies, but I don’t think that we managed to really tie them together and present a vision for a better Britain. I want to move the party towards fixing that issue. We need to communicate clearly and effectively with the populace how their lives will change for the better under a Labour government. Obviously I can’t read minds so I can’t tell you exactly why people cast their ballots for me, but one of the strengths that I think I bring is my experience as a former leader and a veteran of the Sunrise Coalition. I will serve my party as long as it needs me, but I think that it’s fairly widely known that I ran for leader to fix the issues that urgently needed fixing in the party, rather than out of personal ambition to be leader. Which I do have, of course, this is my dream job. But it wasn’t my primary motivator.
Tres Commas: So Labour recently entered into OO as Burple formed. What’s your reaction to the govt and what does it mean for the country?
Lily: What Blurple means is an absolute decimation of the welfare state in this country. It means public services coming under attack like never before. We’ve already seen what a Conservative-LPUK budget would look like back in January. That budget underfunded our vital public services – and you don’t need to take my word for it. Debating the March budget, Sir tommy2boys said:
funding areas that the LPUK underfunded is the right decision
It’s clear to see that the Conservatives know exactly what they’re doing by entering this government. Abandoning the thin veneer of “compassionate conservatism” and one-nation moderation, they have capitulated to a far-right hell-bent on gutting our public services. I’m reliably informed that the Government intends on re-introducing the prescription charges that the Sunrise government abolished and the last two Conservative governments declined to re-introduce. The hypocrisy is simply astounding. It was a Classical Liberal Health Secretary who abolished the prescription charges. To see the party that they merged into turn around and back this is a slap in the face to the former members of that party, not to mention the nation. I’m worried, to be honest. I’m worried for the future under this Government.
Tres Commas: Also you have partnered with the DRF which has seen by some as weakness once you had numbers for OO even without them. So why exactly did you choose to coalition with the DRF and why are they the right choice to be your partners especially given some of their anti-monarchy views?
Lily: We entered coalition negotiations with the DRF before it was announced that the Blurple government was going to form. It was necessary because we were faced with the potential of an LPUK opposition. As this coalition agreement makes clear, they would not have been able to properly oppose a Conservative-led government, with or without the moderating influence of the Liberal Democrats.
It’s true the DRF are anti-monarchy. Some of Labour’s members are republican, some are monarchists. But regardless, we have a great deal in common with the DRF. We are committed to listening to and respecting the devolved Parliaments, despite the constant Conservative attempts to wreck a referendum on Welsh justice devolution. We are committed to empowering local government and better allowing the citizens of the United Kingdom to engage with their governments, through backing the implementation of the Lords report into local government in England, which the Tories refused to back. We are committed to replacing the archaic and unaccountable House of Lords with an elected body that provides representation to the regions of the UK. And while Labour aren’t united on the monarchy, we all recognize the importance of ensuring the democratic legitimacy of our Head of State, which is why we agree that a referendum on the status of the monarchy. The DRF are too big a force in British politics to deny that there is mainstream calls for republicanism, and we must listen to the citizens. That’s what sets us apart from the Conservatives – we listen. And the DRF shares that commitment.
Tres Commas: You mentioned that you think Labour failure in this election can be traced to poor message and vision. However many including former chairman Poot have a interview in which he highlighted the failures of Labour leadership including which you were part of to do election prep and rushing the manifesto and general lack of motivation. So ultimately doesn’t this lack of vision come from that poor leadership? What to do you say to many like Poot who believe Labour leadership failed them and how will you work to fix that considering that you were part of the leadership team that was in this ordeal?
Lily: I believe Poot and others who echo his thoughts have valid concerns. It would be foolish and arrogant to dismiss them out of hand. I’m not sure general lack of motivation is quite the issue – I think it was more aimlessness and demoralisation, which while similar have important differences. It’s just plain wrong to say that Labour members weren’t motivated – once the general election campaign got underway, I think that we ran a good campaign, and that was down to the motivation and hard work of our candidates. But I do agree that there is aimlessness and demoralisation. We were beset with resignations and scandal, and we’d dropped to third in the polls. We didn’t have a clear idea of where we were going. I think that is the main factor behind the issues that we were facing. We know how to fix that and we know how to get back on track. And while I haven’t been in leadership for very long, I think there’s encouraging signs.
I was elected as the Deputy Leader following the resignations of ThePootisPower and Youmaton. And I’d be a hypocrite if I denied that I could’ve done better. Of course I could’ve done better, I can always do better. But I worked incredibly hard in the run-up to the election and I continue to work as hard as I can as the leader. I think most in the party would agree that I put in my fair share of effort towards election preparation. I will continue to work hard as the leader of the Labour Party to get us back on the right course.
Tres Commas: Now everyone agrees Labour needs a way back, what is your plan to do so and do you have any party reforms to help in that climb? For example backbencher councils and invovling more members in policy creation have been mentioned. Will you take the party more to the left or center after this election after seeing the voters back the tories and lpuk on a centre right platform?
Some including certain persons in your own party have said that you are the right choice for the leader but need to train a DL to take over after next election so the party has strong and stable future leadership. Do you accept that notion and do you anyone in mind for that role?
Lily: The internal structure of the party needs a number of reforms, as I believe that as it stands the party is simply over-modularised, if that makes sense? At present, policy was meant to be developed in subgroups of the shadow cabinet where the relevant shadow secretaries could discuss policy. I think that approach, while promising when it was implemented, ultimately isn’t the right one for our party to take. It led to policy that seemed disconnected and sidelined backbenchers from contributing to policy discussions. And while I don’t want to attack our previous strategy too much, it’s clear we need to be having these frank conversations about how our party operates. Instead, I want to open up policy development to the membership as a whole, and ensure that anyone who wants to contribute in an area – be it policy, legislation, or press – is able to and has access to the resources to succeed at doing so. Archism_ has already moved amendments to the party constitution and I plan on proposing more to eliminate bureaucracy and promote an open and transparent party.
I disagree with the notion that the Conservatives and the LPUK are going to govern on a centre right platform. From what I’ve heard about their coalition agreement, they’re looking to institute many policies that can’t be attributed to any coalition with the label of ‘centre’ anything. They are set to re-introduce prescription charges, they are set to slash the funding for universal childcare. But to answer your primary question about what direction I’ll take the party in, I don’t really think it’s a question of left vs centre, I think it’s more a question of firmly articulating where we are. That’s where we struggled at the election, we presented policies with no easily definable platform. But I reiterate that Labour is a broad tent on the left wing. We have social democrats and democratic socialists. While we disagree on some of the implementation details, we’re united in backing a better, more equitable Britain and rejecting the regressive austerity of the right.
As I’ve said, I see it as my responsibility to steady the ship as the leader. Obviously I can’t stay on indefinitely, and I want the next leader to have the experience to effectively lead the party after I step down. It would be wrong for me to endorse a candidate in the deputy leadership election, as that’s a decision for the party at large to make, not me. But I think that we have a wealth of talent, and there’s many members who could, if given leadership experience, be incredibly successful Labour leaders. I’m confident when it’s my time to go we will be left in safe hands.
Tres Commas: There has been an ever growing public spat between your press office and members of the press. Your press office has made several incendiary comments such as labeling certain organizations as “propaganda “ and the Westminster Correspondents Association has called Labour out as being anti-press. Why do you think Labour has this issue and will you bring any reforms to your press office? Will you also apologize on behalf of your press office as the new leader and what can the press expect from Labour press office under you?
Lily: I think that there is certainly an impression among the press that the Labour Party is opposed to them. I regret that impression. Labour fully back a free press as vital to our democracy. I understand that the ‘spat’ has somewhat intensified since the appointment of a new Press Officer. I don’t put the blame on Geordie; it’s an incredibly high pressure job and he’s a new Press Officer. As a former Press Officer and Director of Communications in the Sunrise government, I certainly appreciate how difficult the job can be for a new appointee. It’s something that, with more time and experience, becomes less and less of an issue. In the interim, I do agree that there needs to be something done to dispel the false notion that Labour are anti-press. I think re-orienting the role of the press office slightly has done this, with Geordie taking a greater focus on press production and the leadership assisting with answering questions from the press. I think we’re certainly moving in a more positive direction in that regard and I feel that Labour’s relationship with the press will continue to improve.
Tres Commas: Now your press officer hasn’t backed down from attack the press. Most recently he attacked the Sun. Now in a interview Poot called him “a dead man walking” and many other press outlets have said its time for him to go. In your opinion that is he in the right? And is it time for him to go?
Lily: With all due respect to Poot, I don’t think he’s the best judge of our internal party affairs at the minute. Geordie expressed a fairly reasonable opinion that he had – that sensationalism in the press poses a real threat to accurate reporting. That it changes the incentive of the press from reporting the facts and holding parties to account to creating the most outrage, drama, and scandal. Poot, in fact, agreed with him. He expressed a reasonable opinion. While it’s not his or my place to dictate to the press what they can and can’t report, I certainly don’t think that his op-ed is a reason to sack him.
Tres Commas: Now going into this term other than opposing the government, what will your legislative priorities?
Lily: Labour has a number of legislative priorities that I am excited to be pursuing this term. Our priorities will focus on improving Britons’ lives in the workplace, in their communities, and in their nation. We will legislate to restore the efficacy of trade unions to properly advocate for their workers by proposing a bill to re-introduce the rights stripped from them by the Trade Union Ballot Funding Requirements Act 2019. We will legislate to abolish all fees for changing the name and gender marker on official documentation for transgender Britons. We will work with other parties to draft a bill implementing the recommendations of the House of Lords inquiry into local government in England. We will continue to support our bill on Welsh justice devolution that is currently in the House of Commons. We will legislate to end the archaic and outdated House of Lords and replace it with an elected chamber that ensures proper representation for all of the regions of the United Kingdom.
The Labour Party has an exciting agenda that we will pursue in Parliament and I’m looking forward to having our bills read.
Tres Commas is a writer for the Telegraph.