10:31 GMT25 February 2020
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    MP for Wigan Lisa Nandy has been making her pitch to the left-wing Corbynite base of her party, in an effort to secure the nomination for Labour leader. She is focusing her campaign on reconnecting Labour's message with its traditional northern heartlands, many of which were subject to deindustrialisation by the Thatcher government in the 1980s.

    Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy slammed former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gordon Brown on Wednesday for following a "Thatcherite consensus" and "playing it safe" throughout the New Labour years.

    In a pitch to the left-wing base of her party, the Wigan MP said she wanted to be "on the front foot" of welfare reform and for radical changes in peoples' lives.

    She highlighted achievements made by the Labour government during its time in power from 1997 to 2010 but also directed frustration with the Blair and Brown governments, saying they "took small amounts" from the rich and "handed it with conditions to those at the bottom".

    "I'm not going to trash the legacy of the last Labour government because things like the minimum wage were complete game-changers in towns like Wigan, and the investment that went into health and education was really important", Ms Nandy said during an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

    "But it is certainly true to say that the consensus that Thatcher built lasted all the way through the New Labour years", she added.

    "I came into politics after 10 years working in the voluntary sector with homeless teenagers, first of all, and then with child refugees. And the reason I did was out of frustration with a system under the last Labour government that took small amounts from people at the very top of the system and handed it with conditions to those at the bottom".

    She called out Labour's direction of travel over the past 15 years, saying that the party had just changed its face while keeping conversations about BAME, minority, and working class people stuck within a bubble of the urban white middle class.

    Her approach has won her the support of former leadership rival Jess Phillips, who dropped out of the race on Tuesday in an admission that she would be unable to unify the party.

    The Labour leadership race has fallen to just four remaining contenders with Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, and Emily Thornberry also competing to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

    While Sir Keir is ahead according to most recent polling, Lisa Nandy has centred her pitch for leader around winning back the northern heartlands which it lost in 2019.

    The party moved significantly to the left under Jeremy Corbyn, seeing strong growth in party membership with many thousands of mainly young activists signing up to support the "Corbyn project".

    Leadership hopefuls will have to compete to secure that base of support and candidates who had previously opposed the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn will struggle to make the cut.

    New Labour was a development in the party's history which began under Tony Blair, who shifted the party away from radical politics and towards the prevailing economic consensus after the Cold War of promoting free trade and adhering to market forces.

    Tags:
    New Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, Keir Starmer, Thatcherism, Labour leader, Labour Party
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