Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery calls on Labour 'to get its act together' after 2021 local elections humbling

The leader of Wakefield Council has called on Labour to "get its act together", after a grim showing in last week's local elections.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 1:41 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 1:44 pm
Coun Jeffery said the results in Wakefield were "disappointing" for Labour.

Councillor Denise Jeffery said the party needed to communicate better with voters on a national level.

Labour lost seven seats in Wakefield on a day that saw its majority in the district nearly halved from its results in 2019.

Although the party retains control of Wakefield Council, holding 43 of the authority's 63 seats, it lost control of Sheffield, while in Rotherham the Conservatives went from zero to 20 seats overnight.

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Sir Keir visited Pontefract last Wednesday, the day before polling day.

Reacting to the results on Monday, Councillor Jeffery said: "It was a very disappointing day.

"When you look at other places, like Rotherham and Sheffield, it could have been worse for us here.

"But I put it down to the national picture. We need to get our act together as the Labour Party and we need to be sending out a message to people that's clear.

"We've got a lot of work to do."

Coun Jeffery said she believed the vaccine programme had helped to swell Conservative support, but added that nationally Labour had to communicate better.

She suggested that the fallout from a chaotic Shadow Cabinet reshuffle over the weekend was "not a good look".

"I think people see Boris Johnson as a larger than life personality," she said.

"I thought when Sir Keir Starmer was elected he would go down well with people, but he hasn’t managed to break through yet.

"I think to be fair to the national party, with Covid he's had difficulties putting his policies across.

"Hopefully now we can send out a strong message".

Coun Jeffery admitted she was frustrated that national events had overshadowed local issues her party had campaigned on, but insisted the Wakefield Labour group would "carry on and fight back".

Ahead of a meeting with fellow councillors tonight, Coun Jeffery said she would issue a "rallying call" to party members, adding, "The fightback starts tonight."

Local Democracy Reporting Service