Pointless Union Jack flag-waving won't convince voters, says Labour MP

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Labour MP LLoyd Russell-Moyle outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, where protesters are celebrating after winning a landmark legal challenge at the Court of Appeal over the Government's decision to continue to allow arms sales to Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images)
LLoyd Russell-Moyle criticised 'valueless flag waving' following Labour's local election losses. (Getty)

"Valueless flag waving" isn't enough to convince voters to back Labour, one of the party's MPs has said after several bruising defeats for the party in Thursday's local elections. 

Tweeting in the early hours of Friday, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Kemptown & Peacehaven, Brighton, said: "Good to see valueless flag waving and suit wearing working so well... or not?"

The comment is a reference to a leaked strategy document which suggested Labour must make "use of the flag, veterans, dressing smartly" to win back voters in 'red wall' seats.

His comments came after Sir Keir Starmer’s hopes of leading a Labour revival were crushed by several losses - including the Hartlepool by-election which saw the Conservatives take the seat for the first time since it was formed in 1974.

The continued breakdown of the red wall by the Tories has seen renewed criticism of Starmer's strategy.

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Explaining his comments, Russell-Moyle said: "I think that flag waving or putting a big flag in your background doesn’t help convince voters.

"Actually it makes voters think more that we’re a fraud because they think you’re doing it on a performance. That’s what I mean by valueless flag waving.

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"I think what they want to see is us jumping up and down and waving a flag when we see England win at football or when we’re performing in the Tokyo Olympics. They want to see it actually meaning in the heart.

"I will be doing those things, as I always do, on actual meaning, rather than a performance and that’s how I think you reconnect with voters."

Watch: Early council declarations paint dim picture for Starmer's Labour Party

Left-wing Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle tweeted: "If Keir wants to be a ‘British Biden’ he should learn from USA Democrats, where policies united the party, the left was brought into top table not pilloried, reforming polices are presented as common sense and Uncle Joe speaks for woke liberals and blue collar left at same time."

Following the Hartlepool defeat, former shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said the party needs to 'urgently change direction", tweeting: "We are going backwards in areas we need to be winning.

"Labour’s leadership needs to urgently change direction. It should start by championing the popular policies in our recent manifestos."

The left-wing, grassroots Momentum group which backed former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said the election was a "disaster". 

Co-chairman Andrew Scattergood said: "Starmer’s strategy of isolating the left and replacing meaningful policy with empty buzzwords has comprehensively failed.

"If he doesn’t change direction, not only will he be out of a job – but the Labour Party may be out of government forever."

Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the "crushing" defeat could not be blamed on Corbyn, who was held responsible for previous poor performances by Labour whilst he was leader.

She tweeted: "Not possible to blame Jeremy Corbyn for this result. Labour won the seat twice under his leadership. Keir Starmer must think again about his strategy."

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