🗓 Date: Monday, 26 September 2022
⏳ Time: 13:00
📍Location: Lower Galleria Room 1, ACC Liverpool, Kings Dock Street, Liverpool, England, L3 4FP
SME4Labour and KEKST CNC Fringe: Our business: Perceptions of business and leadership in marginal constituencies
We were joined for this discussion by Matthew Burton & Joe Shipley from Kekst, Joe Mayes from Bloomberg, Shabir Pandor the leader of Kirklees council and MP’s Rupa Huq & Christian Wakeford.
The discussion centred on focus groups that had been conducted in Bury & Reading where voters were quizzed on their views of various political figures as well as their perceptions of business and the Labour Party.
Kekst felt that it was important to focus on constituencies that were traditional swing seats, which had often been ignored whilst narratives around the ‘Red Wall’ and ‘Blue Wall’ have proliferated. Despite these narratives Labour will need to get the votes in traditional swing seats to have a chance at winning the next election. Joe Shipley noted that the focus groups were conducted during the time of national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II which impacted some of the topics people wished to discuss.
Many of the voters in the focus groups expressed a desire to give Liz Truss a chance, although few had any faith in her ability to lead the country through the (then) impending economic crisis. Most voters felt an affinity for business and whilst traditionally associating the Tories with it many were moving to viewing the Labour Party as pro-business due to Tory policy.
Rupa noted how quickly constituencies can change, she won her seat against the national trend from the Tories in 2015 with a majority of 200 votes – only for that to expand to an 11000 majority in 2017. She argued that the Labour Party must have people who understand each constituency in place and we must refrain from viewing constituencies in general terms. Christian agreed that we should be wary of typecasting constituencies, and felt that we should make sure that the Labour Party continues to understand the difference and diversity of the country.
The meeting agreed that Labour was in a strong place to win many marginal constituencies, but that it would take a lot of effort and would require the party to keep up its commitment to business.