Former Northampton MP backs Yvette Cooper for Labour leader as she ‘soul searches’ on General Election defeat

Sally Keeble has contributed to the crowd-funded new book Never Again, Lessons from Labour's Key Seats, released today.
Sally Keeble has contributed to the crowd-funded new book Never Again, Lessons from Labour's Key Seats, released today.

Ed Milliband, the economy and the rise of the SNP, caused Labour to lose the General Election in Northampton according to former MP Sally Keeble in a highly critical new book.

The candidate for Northampton North was pipped to the seat in May by her Tory rival Michael Ellis.

But as the leadership battle for the Labour party rumbles on, Mrs Keeble has today released a series of essays by her and other losing candidates in a bid to pinpoint where the Reds went wrong.

Speaking on Never Again, Lessons from Labour’s Key Seats, she said: “There were three things that affected us.

“The first was leadership. People just didn’t see Ed Milliband as a credible leader.

“Second was economic stability - why would people vote for the party that crashed the economy?

“And thirdly people were worried that we were going to form a coalition with the SNP (Scottish National Party).”

The 82-page book, funded via the website Crowdfunder and published by left-wing think tank The Fabian Society, features contributions from seven Labour candidates who lost in key constituencies and includes an introduction from Labour Peer, Andrew Adonis.

In Mrs Keeble’s essay, The Big Picture, she said Labour lost ground in Northampton because it failed to highlight the link between work and being rewarded.

She said: “Northampton’s politics are about self-reliance. People look to government for the basics, health and education services, as part of their life-style and hope for the future, but they expect to succeed through their own efforts.

“We lost the argument over linking the contribution people make to society and what they take out in cash or kind.”

Mrs Keeble goes on to talk about a person she met while campaigning on Obelisk Rise in Northampton, in the run up to the election.

A single mother she met on the road, who was in her early 30s and worked in a local supermarket, highlighted where Labour went wrong.

“She observed that others in her situation didn’t work and seemed to get everything,” writes Mrs Keeble. “We had a long discussion about hopes for our children, Labour’s commitments on childcare, the living wage, the energy price freeze and she said she’d think about it.

“She was someone who should have been a Labour supporter, but wasn’t convinced by our offer.”

But at a time where the Labour party leadership battle is causing national splits in the country’s main opposition party, Mrs Keeble has shrugged off suggestions the book is being released at a sensitive time.

“This is the time to do soul searching,” she said.

“After 2010 we just got on with it, there wasn’t the thinking that there needed to be.

“So far we have heard little analysis from the places where Labour lost, but that is exactly what we need to be looking at now.”

Mrs Keeble added that she would like to see Yvette Cooper take over as the new leader of the Labour party.

“I think she has a lot of poie and charisma - and I would like to see a woman Labour Prime Minister.”