December 20, 2019
Winter elections are brutal, but none more so than the election of 2019. And it wasn’t just the howling winds or horizontal sleet, the dark nights or the rain soaked leaflets, the doorstep response was arctic. 
Im A Labour MP In A Sea Of Blue. Heres How We Win Back The Trust Of The Country
I’m proud that my constituents tell it how it is and they were happy to tell me how they were feeling: “it’s not you Tracy, you’re doing a great job, I just can’t vote for him” or “I voted Labour all my life but I voted Leave and it’s time you politicians sorted it out”, or “I just want my Brexit and if that means voting Boris, I’ll do it.” 
So it wasn’t a shock when, on election night, the BBC predicted I’d lose. But the reality of Batley and Spen turning blue after losing my predecessor Jo Cox was too horrific; a scenario that often kept me awake at night throughout the campaign. 
But on a night when so many good people lost their seats I got through with a reduced majority of 3,500.Related... How Jeremy Corbyn Lost The Election – And Started The Race To Succeed Him  
Elsewhere brilliant colleagues such as Paula Sherriff in Dewsbury, Thelma Walker in Colne Valley and Mary Creagh in Wakefield lost. Clever, compassionate women who’d already delivered so much for their communities and the country. 
In the north we’ve all heard the rhetoric that working class, Leave-voting towns feel ignored, forgotten and abandoned and had had enough of the status quo. 
That they wanted an end to the deadlock and chaos in parliament. And it’s partially true. Even people who voted remain in 2016 wanted it over and done with, holding their noses to vote for anyone who promised to end the pain of uncertainty and chaos.
But, of course, we know this isn’t anywhere near close to the end. 
When Mr Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement is passed, that isn’t Brexit done, it is Brexit begun. 
With more than 7,000 jobs in manufacturing in Batley and Spen, we know a ‘hard Brexit’ could be extremely painful for us. Jobs could be lost, local much-loved companies could be forced to leave.
And it’s heart-breaking watching my community struggle – working families already using food banks, mums taking third jobs to supplement stagnant wages and young people unsure what their next steps are when college costs the same as the price of a house. People who’s lives could be changed for the better by a Labour government. 
Families who seemed absent in the messaging we got from the Tory candidate, parachuted in from Kent in the eleventh hour. Running a low-key campaign with seemingly little support from local activists he still secured second place. The Lib Dems barely made a ripple and the Green was a paper candidate. The Brexit Party candidate (a late substitution after the first choice was let go after her beliefs that she was from a distant star with world governments working with aliens went viral) also failed to launch. 
Most worrying was a local independent who ran a divisive, ‘us and them’, campaign which garnered more than 6,000 votes. A flashing red light for a community like mine that has historically fought to quell support for parties such as the BNP and Liberty GB.
Nine years of austerity coupled with rising crime and it’s understandable people want someone to blame. But we must lay the blame at the Tory government not our neighbours and workmates. We must accept working class people, from whatever heritage need a better deal, hope and opportunity.
Now on a small island of red (butting up against Judith Cummings in South Bradford) in a sea of blue, I face the difficult task of securing funding for my area, with a hard right government more likely to send cash to its new seats in the north to tighten its grip on marginals. 
Ever more reason why Yorkshire and Humber MPs need to have a strategy working with the Unions, to push the party forwards in the North. 
Devolution is now an absolute must for Yorkshire, so we have control over our money and how it is spent to enrich every community, not just those that have turned blue.
We need a mayor to unlock the funding impasse and a governmental commitment to finish HS2 as well as build our East to West HS3 that could bring jobs and investment to the region. 
Our northern councils need to be supported in delivering gold plated public services with the funding cuts of the last decade reversed. 
The Northern Powerhouse can no longer be just a buzzword or a boy’s club; it needs to be a real commitment to reallocate funds from the South to the North, to put real investment into our businesses, infrastructure and most importantly, our education system to give our workers the skills they need and the Northern Powerhouse Minister needs a seat at Cabinet to show a real commitment to the North, and its new voters. 
And of course change is needed in the Labour Party, but it’s going to be a long haul and anyone who says it’s going to be easy is wrong. We will have to rebuild brick by brick, community by community, council by council. Properly face up to and eradicate the problems that have dogged our party over the past couple of years, offering a new working class, diverse and modern Labour Party with a dynamic vision of Britain post Brexit.
So going forwards, I will be talking to my community, members and trade unions to get their views, asking them what would make them vote for Labour again? What qualities do they think a Labour leader would need and what their priorities are going forwards. A new leader needs to bring us together and reconnect the party with its roots whilst ensuring we are the party of aspiration and ambition. 
Labour is and always will be the party of the people, and I look forward to helping the party rebuild and regain the trust of the country once more.
Tracy Brabin is the Labour MP for Batley & Spen and shadow early years minister
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