Many senior Labour figures visited the Crewe and Nantwich constituency during the General Election campaign to show their support for Laura Smith. Becky Long Bailey, Tracy Brabin, Ian Byrne, Conor McGinn, Jess Phillips, Jeremy Corbyn all visited. Ian Lavery visited twice. But it was always going to be a tough campaign, and in the end she lost. After all the hard work she had put in over the previous two and a half years.
Laura Smith - no longer an MP
And although defeated MPs do get some compensation - providing they fought in the same constituency that they previously served - the reality has to be faced by those who, unlike so many on the Tory side, do not have independent means. So Ms Smith went to visit the Crewe Job Centre. She was now unemployed: what else was she to do?
What will be missed - rallying the troops ...
At this point she made a discovery: many of those she met could not believe that a former MP would need to visit the Job Centre. “Someone just took a picture of me at the job centre. Another person said ‘are you the actual Laura?’ I’ve lost my job and unlike many in Parliament I don’t have a family fortune to fall back on. What do people expect you to do … Bizarre” she responded. It became a national news event.
So it was that the BBC reported yesterday “Laura Smith has told Radio 5 Live she isn’t “ashamed” after being photographed at a job centre. The former Labour MP, who lost her Crewe and Nantwich seat during the 2019 general election, says she’s ‘like anybody else who finds themselves out of work’. She told Radio 5 Live’s Chloe Tilley: ‘I’ve got two young children and I need to look at all of my options … I haven’t really got the luxury to sit around for too long thinking about it, I need to get on with it and that’s what I intend to do.’”
She wasn’t able to be just Top Campaigner and Top Motivator, she also had to be Top Mum and Top Breadwinner. So she had to go and get a job. Unlike so many politicians, especially those out there on the right, Laura Smith really is from the working class, something all those excessively paid pundits saying that Labour has somehow abandoned the working class have managed not to notice. The attention did not faze her.
... and singing badly into a washing-up liquid bottle (don't ask).
“Thanks for all the lovely words. politics at every level needs more people who understand the daily existence of average people, rather than a microcosm of society that is relatively privileged or from a particular background. Here’s to more truly working class representatives” she told. What did the media expect her to do?
“Hopefully we can start dealing with some of the misconceptions around people who are involved in politics. I’m proud of my background and where I’m from. Experience of real life is essential in my opinion if you want to represent. We definitely need more diversity in politics”. And we need more honesty. Which Ms Smith has in spades.
What is also telling is her generosity of spirit towards everyone in the Labour family, whether they are left-wing, soft-left, centre-left or whatever. So as the leadership and deputy leadership contests gain that little bit more intensity, her advice is simply “I hope everyone gets the needed nominations for both [Labour Leadership Elections] … Let the members decide”. There’s a lesson in there for all the factionalism peddling.
We will all miss Laura Smith’s presence. More importantly, so will the Labour Party.
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