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UK Labour deputy warns ‘magnolia politics’ is turning voters off

Published: (Updated: ) in European News by .

Angela Rayner says British public respond to ‘authenticity’ of Boris Johnson.

LONDON — The deputy leader of the U.K.’s opposition Labour Party warned that “magnolia politics” is turning off voters, and urged her colleagues to campaign in primary colors to win back former heartlands.

Speaking to POLITICO’s Westminster Insider podcast, Angela Rayner said people have flocked to Prime Minister Boris Johnson because he “comes across as authentic,” and admitted she could well have been a Tory voter were she an 18-year-old in Northern England today.

“I think a lot of people like the authenticity,” she said of Johnson’s appeal. “For a long time, people have felt that politicians are just saying what they think they want to hear. Or they try to ‘triangulate,’ is the word that they use. I call it ‘magnolia politics.’ Let’s not offend anyone, and have no opinion on anything … I think all parties were a bit (guilty) of that. And Boris just sort of cut through that.”

She added: “The Angie Rayner at 18 would have liked someone a bit spicy, and willing to throw a grenade in … That’s why we like soaps, isn’t it? We like a bit of argy bargy, or someone who is going to upset what the norm is.”

Rayner was speaking to the podcast in the wake of Labour’s crushing by-election defeat in Hartlepool, a heartland seat the party had held for almost 60 years.

“If I’m honest, I think we lost it before we even picked a candidate,” she said. “I think it’s an emotional shift away from Labour that takes time to get back … We can’t just say, ‘OK, we’ve got a different leader — now vote for us.’ It takes a lot longer to earn that respect back.”

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Rayner clashed dramatically with Labour leader Keir Starmer in the wake of the defeat, after he decided to remove her as campaign co-ordinator and party chair. After heated talks, she emerged with several plum new roles, including shadow secretary of state for the future of work, and shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

“I’ve been trying to learn them!” she laughed. “‘Shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster’! I had to keep saying ‘caster,’ like in sugar — that’s how I have to think of it in my head. Because I thought some media person’s going to ask me, and I’m going to mispronounce it, and they’re going to say, ‘Look she’s really thick! She can’t even say her own title!'”

Rayner insisted her relationship with Starmer remains strong, despite their public clash at the weekend.

“Me and Keir are like ying and yang,” she said. “I just like to say it how it is. So I go in there, like the trade unionist I am, and I’m like, ‘Right, I’m not happy about this, what’s gone on here?’ And Keir’s this incredibly professional guy. So he’s like, ‘Oh, OK, this is what I think.’ And so it’s just like the two worlds collide.

“But I will say this about Keir — he is a total professional and he does want to do the right thing. The trust and the bond hasn’t been broken. You know, he might cheese me off now and again, but that’s how partnerships are … But, you know, Keir’s heart’s in the right place.

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“The media went mad, and it all went a bit like crazy. But actually, reshuffles are difficult. And me and Keir have had loads of robust conversations since we’ve been leader and deputy leader — but I’ve never fallen out with him.”

Rayner did have harsh words, however, for those within the party who seem determined to keep Labour stuck in a perpetual state of civil war.

“Where we’re actually talking to the voters, we’re doing really well,” she said. “But there is a small group that get the headlines that are just in a power struggle. And that’s nonsense — because we’re not in power in Westminster! And we won’t be in power in Westminster for a very long time, until we start realizing that we look like bald men fighting over combs.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Rayner also opens up about her poverty-stricken childhood, and how the challenges she faced as a single mother at 16 have made her more resilient today.

“When these people are crying over a bad headline or something, I’m like — get a grip!” she said. “Do you know how hard it is when your kid comes home and they say they need shoes, and you literally feel like your whole world has melted?”

She added: “You’re absolutely bricking it, because you’re like — what I’m going to do? I can’t borrow any more … I already owe money there. That is real fear. When it’s in your stomach, and it literally makes you feel sick, because you don’t know how you’re going to get to the end of the week. Not a bad headline: Get over yourselves!”

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Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/angela-rayner-labour-deputy-politico-westminster-insider-podcast/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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