The MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark has told the News that if Labour does not become more ‘ambitious’ then ‘the very people they want to help will be marginalised and left behind’, writes Alex Yeates…
Speaking in an interview about his first year in Parliament, Neil Coyle criticised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to elections and his focus on issues that ordinary people do not care about.
He said: “If we are not ambitious in the Labour Party for the people that we seek to serve then we might as well pack up and go home now.
“Just pretending that hanging on was good enough is not ambitious.
“The Labour Party wants opportunities for everyone and can’t offer those opportunities by having an agenda that says ‘losing a bit in this election wasn’t that bad’.
“In Bermondsey and Southwark I can honestly say that no one has ever raised the issue of the Falklands on the doorstep and no one has ever raised Trident on the doorstep.
“They are just not issues that come up. Their most immediate concerns are housing, education for their children, income levels and the NHS.”
Mr Coyle’s comments come after a disappointing round of local election results outside of London in England, Scotland and Wales.
He said he wanted to wait till after the elections took place to vent ‘frustration’ so that he could not be accused of ‘trying to damage’ election chances.
As well as welcoming the newly elected Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Mr Coyle expressed desire for the party not to mirror the negatives of Conservative Zac Goldsmith’s campaign by just saying ‘we’re not the Tories’.
In his first year as MP Mr Coyle won a seat on the powerful Work and Pensions Select Committee and will soon question former BHS boss Sir Philip Green on his handling of BHS’s pensions.
Speaking on local issues Mr Coyle said he was working with Police Minister Mike Penning on having a knife amnesty before the summer and holding more mobile surgeries to help engage the area.
Mr Coyle warned that the government’s housing bill would pose difficulties for Southwark in the coming years as it would ‘take supply from under the council’s nose’ while demanding that more homes are built.
He said that Southwark Council’s leader Peter John had been in contact to discuss what the bill would mean to the borough and how the council could adapt, so as still to deliver on 2014’s manifesto.
When asked what it was like to leave the council to be a Member of Parliament full time, he said: “I miss planning a lot. You really got a handle on how strongly people thought about different issues.
“You got physically to change the landscape of Southwark. There are bits in Southwark that are there because of my role on the planning committee in the past, or not there in one case.
“It was a bit of a wrench coming off the committee and to have that level of detachment now is quite sad I think.”
Father to a six-week-old daughter, Esme, formal paternity leave is on the horizon to help balance representing the constituency and life at home.