‘Our challenge is to light the fire,’ Hove MP tells FT

Posted On 30 Dec 2021 at 11:02 pm

The Labour MP for Hove said that his party had to take advantage of Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s political problems.

Peter Kyle told the Financial Times (FT) that Labour, edging ahead in some opinion polls, had “an opportunity to be heard that we must not squander”.

Mr Kyle said that the party’s leader Sir Keir Starmer had impressed people with his “decency” and the rebuilding of credible economic policies but added: “Our challenge is to light the fire.”

He also touched on electoral tactics after two recent by-election victories for the Liberal Democrats in formerly safe Tory seats – Chesham and Amersham and then North Shropshire.

Mr Kyle, 51, has spoken out in the past against a formal “progressive alliance” with the Lib Dems, Greens and other left-of-centre parties.

But in the FT today (Thursday 30 December) he said that Labour had to be smart in managing its relations with other parties. And he appeared to accept that tactical voting and pragmatism could help defeat Boris Johnson.

The interview followed Mr Kyle’s recent appointment to Labour’s Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

The newspaper described him as “one of a number of moderate Labour figures in Sir Keir Starmer’s reshaped frontbench team”.

Mr Kyle told the FT that British voters hated formal electoral pacts but that Labour had to accept reality on the ground.

He said: “There are ways of managing a relationship with other parties that share some of our priorities which simply reflects the reality of elections.

“It’s about targeting resources and benignly letting people know that the heavens won’t open up if people who genuinely support you want to lend their vote.”

He said that voters were perfectly capable of working out how to vote tactically to achieve their preferred result.

And he added: “The people of Chesham and Amersham didn’t need politicians emerging from a smoke-filled room to tell them who to vote for and not to vote for. They figured it out for themselves.

“If there had been a formal pact, they would have a way to punish us as well as the Tories.”

Instead, Labour appeared to have put up candidates but not much of a fight in the two by-elections.

Mr Kyle, who campaigned for a second referendum after voters back Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) – said that he was now “a rebuilder not a remainer”.

He said: “The challenge for the Labour Party is to rebuild from the rubble of a bad Brexit deal.”

The newspaper added: “Ironically, Kyle seems more enthusiastic about the Northern Ireland protocol, the part of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal that regulates trade in the region, than the Prime Minister who negotiated it.”

The protocol was flawed, Mr Kyle said, but he added: “We see the future is in building upon the great potential in the protocol.”

The FT said that, uniquely, under the Brexit deal, Northern Ireland remains part of both the EU and UK single markets for goods.

To read more, click here.

  1. George Coombs Reply

    A good speech and congratularions to Peter on becoming the shadow northern ireland secretary-a post that will require a degree of care and sensitivity (especially with issues around the north/south border) and I am believing, A key thing I feel Keir Starmer can bring to a presently, rather untidy, political leadership is solid and morally responsible leadership and I’m sure Peter will be a first rate inclusion in the front bench team

  2. Everyman Reply

    Oh dear…. What a deluded fool…

  3. Sam Reply

    “One of a number of moderate” = Tory light and policy light are the only lights here.

  4. Sal Reply

    It’s easy to criticise, but Peter Kyle is by far the best MP for Hove in my lifetime, and I say that even though I don’t always agree with what he says. (Cast your mind back to Celia Barlow.) I would say the same for Caroline Lucas, too, as MP for Brighton Pavilion, where we used to have Julian Amery! You only have to have seen the outpouring of affection for the late David Amess to see that there are good MPs on all sides. That’s a very different thing from an MP we all always agree with.
    As for Sam’s comments about Tory light, he represents a seat populated by moderates, in an area that traditionally voted Tory, and where many voters remain swing voters, broadly occupying the middle ground. Hove has very few tribal Corbynistas or Green extremists.

  5. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Mr. Kyle ignores the large number of Hove residents who would like to re-join Europe, something essential with the climate emergency.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Do you mean fellow Green activists with second homes in the Alps who want to rejoin the EU (we are still part of Europe 🙄)?

      Please define what you mean by “large numbers” – is it the same as the “large number” of cyclists that used your OSR cycle lane extension?

      Look at voting records in Hove and see how badly your party has performed – regularly losing deposits like you did when you stood for Parliament 😂

      • Christopher Hawtree Reply

        You are a liar. I did not lose my deposit. I came third, beating ukip, and this was the hightest Green vote in Hove. The referendum vote im 2016 showed that Hove is a Remain area. These things are a matter of record, easily checked: a better use of precious, fleeting life than typing rubbish.

        • Peter Challis Reply

          Please accept my apologies – I should have said that Greens nearly lost their deposits in 2010, 2015, and 2017, and did so in 2019 being beaten by the LibDems.

          Any chance of you answering my first 2 responses about Green councillors in the Alps; you not understanding we are still part of Europe; and your inability to define “large”? 😉

          • Christopher Hawtree

            All right!

            Meanwhile, I do not see anything wrong with holidays in France.

            As I say, the voting figures in 2016 showed that this is a Remain area. And I am chuffed that my mask – with the EU flag on it – brings much appreciation from strangers.

            Re-Join is set to be the big issue.

        • Peter Challis Reply

          But councillors owning second homes in France and working there is perfectly okay with you?

          I can’t seem to find separate EU 2016 votes for Hove and Portslade – do you have a URL?

          Perhaps try loosening your EU mask to relieve the “chuffing” – sorry to inform you that we have left and we seem to be surviving quite well without their meddling.

          Not sure who thinks re-join will be the big issue – except for the leave denialists in the Green Party who don’t accept democratic decisions.

      • Valerie Reply

        Christopher Hawtree confines his comments to matters Hove more than the city per se & the two cllrs who holiday or do lockdown or WFH are Brighton residents well able to soeak up as cllr Druitt has to the Argus

        • Christopher Hawtree Reply

          The universe is my territory!

          Meanwhile, Tom and Alex regularly write of France on Facebook.

    • Ren Reply

      Britain hasn’t left Europe. It’s left the European Union. And Mr Kyle did not ignore those wishing to rejoin the European Union. He supported them more than most MPs by campaigning for a second referendum.

  6. Chaz. Reply

    Another Labour MP with no vision for the future.
    His sole aim in life is tactical voting.
    That says everything we need to know about Labour, Lib Dems and the Greenies: they are one and the same.

    • Gina Jones Reply

      While I couldn’t tell you much about any MP’s vision for the future, I don’t think it’s right or fair to say that his sole aim in life is tactical voting.
      The Left in British politics is currently more fractured than the Right, although in the era of UKIP and, before that, the Referendum Party, when Blair and Brown led Labour, for example, the Right was more divided.
      And any politician genuinely seeking power for his or party needs to look at building the biggest like-minded grouping possible. I may not particularly like tactical voting and electoral pacts, but I get the logic.

      • Chaz. Reply

        You love tactical voting Gina, admit it.
        You, Kyle and all the other lefties have no other choice.
        Join up with disparate left wing groups to outvote the Tories.
        What a sad indictment on your policies, but not unexpected.
        Get ready for that X in the Greenie box Gina or is it the Labour one?
        What does it matter in your world, all left wing is the same.

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