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19 March 2020updated 23 Jul 2021 9:20am

Lisa Nandy: “It may be that we come out of this a profoundly changed country”

The Labour leadership candidate on why “this has to be the moment when we look at the country that we’ve built and understand the weaknesses that are inherent in our structures and put them right”.      

By Ailbhe Rea

Lisa Nandy has reflected on the “profound” changes that the UK is likely to undergo as a result of the coronavirus crisis, suggesting that we may well become “a profoundly changed country, much stronger and much more able to withstand shocks”.

On this week’s episode of the New Statesman podcast, the Wigan MP and Labour leadership contender discusses how the economic consensus is “going to have to fundamentally change”, while the crisis will “throw a spotlight” on areas across society where improvements will have to be made “from something as small as electronic voting in the House of Commons, all the way through to the amount of resilience we’ve got in families in terms of their incomes, in communities in terms of the powers that councils have in order to actually shape and drive their own communities”.

“Whilst I would never suggest at all that there is anything positive about this crisis it’s the most serious and distressing crisis that has happened in my lifetime this has to be the moment when we look at the country that we’ve built and understand the weaknesses that are inherent in our structures and put them right. 

“I’m sure this won’t be the last time that this happens in a globalised world. We need to become much, much stronger and much more resilient. The lesson from these global crises is that we’re only as strong as our most vulnerable.”

Nandy also discusses the failings of a political system that measures “progress in terms of where we get most growth, in terms of productivity” while failing to acknowledge parts of the country that have very little economic resilience, as well as overlooking considerations such as health inequalities or our responsiveness to the climate emergency. 

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“GDP is basically a relic of a different time that prioritises economic growth over people. What we’ll probably see is a consensus building over the next few months that says that this is going to have to fundamentally change.” 

Nandy also discusses the challenges of acting as a responsible opposition at this time of national crisis: from her decision to be the first to criticise the government’s communications effort as a “shambles”, to the private conversations between Labour leadership candidates about how to respond to this unprecedented situation.

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You can listen to the full interview, including Nandy’s reflections on how she would respond to this crisis as prime minister, on Acast, Spotify, or wherever you normally get your podcasts.