By Kate McIntosh
Lisa Nandy comes across as exactly the type of level-headed leftist her party could do with more of. Last month Palatinate Politics spoke exclusively to the Labour MP for Wigan, who has been touted as a potential successor to Jeremy Corbyn.
She began her career in the charity sector, working with refugee children. “It was frustration with the way those groups of children were treated that led me into parliament,” she explains. “The circumstances of their lives had been determined before they were even born, and in the end, only politics can change that, because it’s about power.”
Having been subbed on and off of Corbyn’s front bench since 2010, Nandy speaks frankly about her experience in parliament, especially as a woman. “You’re under a lot of scrutiny, particularly around what you look like, what you wear, how you speak,” she says. Long hours and time away from her young family make the job more costly.
“There are benefits of it too though,” she adds. “[In parliament] you have to build yourself a profile and a platform to get a hearing for the ideas and the campaigns that you’re trying to push. As a young woman as part of the 2010 intake it was easier to get that profile because you stand out.”
With all the talk of forward progress you might forget that Nandy’s party is currently sinking low in the polls. “I think the roots of the current problems that Labour has in our heartlands go right back to the early 2000s” she says. “There’s a growing sense of frustration – especially in towns rather than cities – that mainstream politicians aren’t speaking for people like them and if we really are serious about trying to solve that we are going to have to stop pointing the finger of blame at any one individual.”
Lisa gives me a rundown of her priorities for the party: a serious, practical response to immigration concerns, and a collaborative, cross-party movement that is popular with the public. But would Nandy like to be Labour leader? “No,” she laughs, “definitely not.” “My intention was to use parliament as a megaphone,” she reiterates, “to try and give a voice to people who don’t have one, and I think I have been reasonably successful at doing that, but there is a lot more to be done, and that’s what I am interested in.”
Photograph: Durham University Labour Club