Shadow Cabinet Row As Lisa Nandy Tells Keir Starmer To Stop Focusing On Partygate

The shadow communities secretary said ordinary voters were more interested in how the party would deal with the cost of living crisis.
Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy in Burnley last month.
Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy in Burnley last month.
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

A Labour split has erupted after Lisa Nandy told Keir Starmer to stop focusing on partygate and instead tell voters how they would tackle the cost of living crisis.

The shadow local government secretary confronted the Labour leader at last Thursday’s shadow cabinet meeting.

She said Labour should be doing more to capitalise on voter anger at soaring inflation and rising bills ahead of the local elections on May 5.

Nandy said there was a danger that voters would think “we’re all as bad as each other” if Labour continued to focus on Boris Johnson’s woes over lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street.

She said Labour risked looking “out of touch” at a time when families across the country are struggling to make ends meet.

One shadow cabinet source told HuffPost UK: “She pissed everyone off because we’ve hardly seen her in the local election campaign.”

Another insider said: “There was a bit of confusion in the room as the shadow cabinet, the party and Keir have dedicated the entire election campaign to cost of living.

“But we can’t just ignore partygate when the PM literally has to come to the House to explain himself on it.”

But one shadow cabinet member said: “Lisa’s not alone on this. There was strong agreement in the room to focus on the cost of living.”

Nandy, the MP for Wigan, was one of the candidates Starmer defeated to win the Labour leadership two years ago.

He appointed her shadow foreign secretary in his first frontbench line-up, but moved her to the local government brief in a reshuffle last November.

Ironically, last week’s row came on the same day that MPs agreed to refer Boris Johnson to the privileges committee over claims he misled parliament by insisting lockdown rules were followed in Downing Street at all times.

The Metropolitan Police have issued more than 50 fines over illegal gatherings in Number 10 and Whitehall, including to Johnson, his wife Carrie and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

The scandal has seen the prime minister’s personal ratings plummet and helped Labour establish a consistent lead in the opinion polls.

A source close to Nandy said: “It was less of a criticism of the partygate strategy, more a warning for the future.

“Lisa doesn’t think that partygate is irrelevant at all, but the cost of living matters as well and we mustn’t lose sight of that.”


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