Former foreign secretary David Miliband believes the Labour Party is at its weakest point for half a century.
Speaking to The Times, Miliband — narrowly lost out on the Labour leadership race in 2010 to his brother — said: “I’m obviously deeply concerned that Labour is further from power than at any stage in my lifetime.”
Miliband was interviewed by the newspaper after Labour’s humiliating defeat to the Conservatives in the Copeland by-election, which marked the first time a sitting party has gained a seat in a by-election since 1982. Labour had held Copeland for 80 years.
“I don’t think this is just a repeat of the 1980s,” Miliband said. “We have to really understand the historic nature of the challenge that we have to face.”
Miliband is currently the head of the International Rescue Committee in New York. Asked whether he would consider making a comeback to UK politics, he said: “I honestly don’t know what I am going to do. It’s hard to see, but what’s the point of saying never?”
Trudy Harrison of the Conservative Party made history in the early hours of Friday morning by beating Labour’s Gillian Troughton in the Copeland by-election. Harrison was elected as the constituency’s first Tory MP by 13,748 votes to 11,601 for Labour’s Gillian Troughton, on a turnout of 51%.
Labour did manage to hang on to its Stoke-on-Trent Central seat. But despite winning, Labour’s vote share of 37% in the constituency was 2% down on its general election result in 2015.
In a statement sent out after the Copeland result, Labour leader Corbyn admitted that “our message was not enough to win through in Copeland,” but added that voters in the seat “have been let down by the political establishment.”
Corbyn also resisted calls for his resignation, telling reporters: “I was elected to lead this party. I am proud to lead this party,” The Daily Telegraph reported.
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