‘I will be the loudest critic of this Tory government’: says Batley & Spen MP
“The numbers and the wave of noise coming from the Tories has intensified and our party has diminished,” was Tracy Brabin’s answer when quizzed about life as a Labour MP after the Conservatives landslide December election victory.
Ms Brabin, who was re-elected as Batley & Spen’s Labour MP last month, said the only way Labour can respond is to be “louder than ever and to call the government out”.
Her views come after the Labour Party's decision to reshuffle the pack, which saw her appointed as Shadow Culture Secretary this month.
She said: “The government has to have an opposition that’s organised, has due diligence and is forensic of government policy - we have to be the terrier snapping at their heels.
“The people of Batley and Spen voted for me to be their MP, so a key aspect of the next five years for me is getting the message across that towns, villages and communities like mine cannot be abandoned by the government.
“I will be the loudest critic of this Tory government for our towns.”
Ms Brabin said she was ecstatic after being re-elected and plans to work with her community from the ground up, but admitted to being heartbroken her Labour colleague and friend Paula Sherriff lost her seat as Dewsbury’s MP.
“I’m heartbroken to lose Paula - she was a fine parliamentarian.
“Nationally, I think Labour lost because of Brexit and partly because voters didn’t think Jeremy Corbyn could lead. I also think it was the manifesto, which people didn’t believe was credible.
“The clarity behind the ‘Get Brexit Done’ message was great, and Labour didn’t have an equivalent.
“We’re the ‘Anti-austerity Party’ and I think that’s a powerful legacy Jeremy has done for the Labour Party.
“He got the message across Labour will fight for communities struggling on minimum wage, where couples and parents in work are having to go to food banks.
“But, we have to accept we cannot be the party for those who are struggling - we have to be the party of aspiration too.
“And that means moving more politically more central.
“I grew up in Howden Clough and had big dreams, and I was able to fulfil those dreams.
“But I look at those people on my estate and I’m not sure those avenues, which I was lucky to receive, are open to them.”
Now Jeremy Corbyn has accepted defeat as Labour leader, Ms Brabin has since publicly declared support for Sir Keir Starmer.
“Sir Keir has been to Batley & Spen and everyone chimed with him,” she said.
“I’m confident we can get rid of the factions in place within Labour and push on.
“For me, I’ve been promoted to Shadow Culture Secretary of State.
“In the past few years, I helped get nine youths within the area into the National Youth Theatre, which is a life-changing opportunity.
“We’re hoping to bring the National Music Theatre to hold auditions in Batley & Spen.”
Ms Brabin is now bidding to fund an arts centre for her constituency, and she is campaigning for a light railway, to better connect Bradford with Batley and Spenborough.
“The government have finally buckled under the pressure from MPs like myself who’ve been asking for Northern Rail to be stripped of its franchise,” said Ms Brabin.
“I’ll be holding the government to account to give us a modern railway network we can be proud of.
“Across Europe, the train systems in small communities like ours are phenomenal.
“Until Boris Johnson comes to West Yorkshire and attempts to get from Whitby to Wakefield on time, only then will he realise what we’ve had to struggle with - I’m determined that my constituency gets to transport it deserves.”