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Alex Cunningham
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Alex Cunningham
UK News

MP urges left-leaning Christians to join their local Labour party in wake of Hartlepool by-election defeat

by Chantalle Edmunds

Christian MP Alex Cunningham has urged Christians, who consider themselves left-leaning, to join their local Labour party and "start doing the practical things that need doing."

The MP for Stockton North, which is a neighbouring constituency to Hartlepool, spoke to Premier following the Conservative win in the town. Jill Mortimer won the seat by a majority of 7-thousand, becoming Hartlepool's first female MP. It had been an area represented by the Labour party for nearly 50 years.

"If people are really, really interested in politics and are of the left, I would encourage them to get involved, join the local Labour Party, and start to do some of the practical things that need doing. And some of that is carrying the message out to people, you know, that the Labour Party has got a future in this country, and we can come back into government." he said.

On Friday, following the by-election result, Labour's left wing told Sir Keir Starmer he needs to "change direction" after the party suffered some disappointing election results across the country. The leader of Unite - the biggest trade union funder of Labour - said there should be no calls for Sir Keir Starmer to resign as leader, despite the party's defeat in Hartlepool. Cunningham told Premier he has confidence in the Labour leader.

"He's only been a leader for a year. That's no real time to prepare for any by-election, particularly, you know, in the current climate where we've had a leader who hasn't actually addressed his own parliamentary Labour Party in person, since he was elected, never mind doing all the things out in communities that he's desperate to do and to get his message across. And I think once we can get back to whatever normal is, I'm sure that he will start to get those messages across. But at the same time, those of us, you know, working with our colleagues in the Shadow Cabinet need to develop that policy program and be able to sell it to the people if we're going to make progress."

He added it was strange to no longer be surrounded by Labour safe seats in neighbouring constituencies: "I was used to being surrounded by colleagues on all sides. We know that we've got to make sure we've got our messages right in the future and make sure that we start to take these seats back, because if we don't, we can never form a government. And that's why the change in the Labour Party has to be accelerated. I mean, Keir has said that he takes responsibility for all the results across the country of the last 24 hours, but he will also take responsibility for sorting it all out."

David Burrowes, Parliamentary Director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, told Premier part of the Conservatives' appeal is that they have broadened their message: "I think they are reaching out way beyond their normal, traditional appeal, which is a good thing. And you know, if one has a longer view, a historical view, then no party likes to talk about being a party of one nation that we're not just a party of the South East and the shires but we're really positive about different backgrounds. And that's something that's done right, there's an appeal to a party that has got things done.

"Obviously, there's a big factor that's changed the political dynamics about Britain and the fact what one's seeing in areas where there's a high vote for leaving the European Union, particularly those working class areas and places like Hartlepool. I think it's not just about Brexit, it's people who feel let down by those they've traditionally voted for, not least the Labour Party, they want new answers. They're finding an appeal; they're finding a source of people wanting something different they want to change.

"The question, and I suppose what we want to be humble with is recognizing that, you know, we haven't yet come up with all the answers, we want to ensure that there's a levelling up agenda to give more investment and more jobs and opportunities."

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