I CALL at the Elm Green Lane Centre in Conisbrough, a Don Valley mining village.
A December ritual, I’ve got chocolates and a House of Commons tea towel for the brilliant ladies who run the centre, one of my surgery venues for years. This time, it’s different.
The room is full. The bingo stops as they break into applause. They have a Thank You card, signed by dozens of their users.
“We wouldn’t have this place if it wasn’t for you,” one lady whispers.
I thank them for their love and assure them I’m not going anywhere. I live here. Doncaster is my home.
An elderly man takes my husband to one side: “I’m sorry — I love Caroline, but I couldn’t vote for Corbyn.”
His comment wasn’t a surprise. I had it hundreds of times on rainy doorsteps in the 37 days of the election.
The public — Leave voters and a lot of Remain voters, too — wanted Brexit sorted
They felt Jeremy wasn’t a strong leader, promised unaffordable free gifts, and he wasn’t patriotic. They couldn’t trust him on Brexit.
The leadership candidates dance around the reasons for our defeat. “You can’t get Brexit done — it will take years.” “We shouldn’t have had a Brexit election.”
It isn’t complicated. This election was about trust.
The public — Leave voters and a lot of Remain voters, too — wanted Brexit sorted. They wanted us to leave.
Labour was promising to have a new referendum.
The Tories were promising to leave. And mining villages across the North voted to ensure we did.
A re-elected Labour MP told me: “We’re becoming the new liberal party: middle-class Guardian readers. Where is the working class?”
They’re the ones voting Tory. How have we let people down so badly? What happened to the values of Attlee, Wilson or Blair?
The Elm Green pensioners and their grandchildren deserve a Labour Party they can love again.
- Caroline Flint was Labour MP for Don Valley, 1997-2019