Borough seat where Labour suffered shock loss resembles 'heart and soul' of party's politics, says outgoing MP

Jo Platt
Jo Platt

The Labour party has ‘lost a seat that resembles the heart and soul of our movement’, according to Leigh’s outgoing MP.

Jo Platt has spoken out after losing her seat by 1,965 votes to James Grundy, who will become the town’s first Conservative representative in parliament.

Related: Leigh's first-ever Tory MP will continue to serve as a councillor until elections

Labour had held the seat since 1922, with Ms Platt elected in 2017 after taking over from the long-serving Andy Burnham, who is now the mayor of Greater Manchester.

On the night of the election amidst a ‘traumatic’ night for Labour, Ms Platt urged the party to stop ‘navelgazing’ and reconnect with the communities that had turned away from them.

And over the weekend the former Wigan councillor took to Facebook to offer further reflections on the shock defeat.

“Yesterday was a dark day for Leigh and for the Labour Party,” said Ms Platt.

“My thoughts are with all those that desperately needed an end to this Government.

“As a party we have lost a seat that resembles the heart and soul of our movement. The shift has been years in the making.

“No one individual is to blame but as a party we must take a long hard look at who we in Labour stand for, who we represent and why the Labour Party was formed.

“This is undoubtedly the greatest challenge our Party has faced but one we must overcome to regain the trust and support of those that I got into politics to serve.”

Ms Platt also said her thoughts were with those who ‘desperately needed an end to this Government’, including those who had contacted her surgery that were ‘struggling to make ends meet’.

“To the teachers, the nurses and all public servants that have dealt with the effects of austerity, I will always stand shoulder to shoulder with you,” she said.

“I am so proud to live with my children in Leigh. It’s my home and I care deeply for its future.”

Ms Platt added: “To everyone in Leigh, thank you for the opportunity to serve you. For those who voted for me I say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for placing your trust in me.

“To all those that couldn’t vote Labour in this election, I will continue to fight to restore your faith in the party that I love.”

Congratulations were also offered to Mr Grundy, who will hold onto his Wigan council seat until May’s local elections.

In his acceptance speech Mr Grundy said Ms Platt’s loss was down to anger over Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn.

“I hope that he shares the deep and genuine commitment that I had for our towns,” said Ms Platt.

“His success will be our success and I wish him the very best in his new role.”