Tristram Hunt wants Labour to find some patriotic fervour and "wrap itself" in the cross of St George. In a Wednesday speech, the shadow education secretary will reflect how a lack of patriotism contributed to Labour's election defeat in May, while urging the future leader to embrace the party’s English identity.
Hunt is to push for an English Labour Party to counter the rise in nationalist and right-wing parties, which are perceived to be more willing to defend national culture. He will ask Labour to celebrate "love of country" to recapture deserting support, while urging the party chart a course between the populism of Greece's Syriza and the resurgent right-wing parties of Europe.
"We need to ally the emotional connection, the patriotism and the grassroots engagement with a more obviously 'Blairite' approach to regaining trust with the public finances,” Hunt will say. “A politics, which is patriotic and prudent, compassionate and competent, emotionally intelligent and economically literate."
Hunt, who is backing Liz Kendall for Labour leader, will add: "The perception that centre-right and nationalist parties have a deeper and more emotional affinity with the nation, leads voters to lend them their trust when it comes to defending the national culture and interest. And that means the Labour Party here in England needs to catch-up or risk futility -- because we cannot afford to ignore Labour's England problem.”
Hunt will point out how the Tories “ruthlessly exploited” concerns in England about the SNP to win the election, arguing that Labour must embrace "English identity, emphasise our English culture and rediscover the history of radical England.”
Hunt will also call for an English Labour Party “to complement our Scottish and Welsh counterparts.” Jon Cruddas, a former adviser to Ed Miliband, revealed last month that an English Labour Party was being set up. Although the grouping will initially be informal, the backbencher said he believed it would "end up" being officially recognised in the same way the Scottish and Welsh divisions are.
Hunt will insist such a move will not divide the party. "We were beaten by a tag team of Nicola Sturgeon and David Cameron," he will say. "In Scotland voters were told we would sell them out to the Tories. In England, voters were told we would sell them out to the SNP. Neither was true but we were feeble in our response.”