LABOUR has its eyes fixed on strengthening its hand in Portsmouth, one of the party’s senior leaders has revealed.
Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said the party was determined to claim both parliamentary seats in the city.
Stephen Morgan’s election is a real sign that people in Portsmouth are looking to Labour, are looking for answers, are looking for a better society and they know that we are the party that can provide thatNia Griffith, Labour shadow defence secretary
And, the Labour heavyweight vowed the party would work to improve the situation for service families in the area, fighting for better living conditions.
Her comments came yesterday during a visit to the city with recently-elected Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan.
The senior MP was given a tour of the Portsmouth Naval Base before visiting Company of Makers, a military fashion social enterprise based at the Hotwalls Studio, in Broad Street, Old Portsmouth.
Speaking from the studio, Ms Griffith said Portsmouth was a key city in the nation’s defence infrastructure.
She claimed more people in the city were ‘turning to Labour’, adding: ‘Stephen’s election is a real sign that people in Portsmouth are looking to Labour, are looking for answers, are looking for a better society and they know that we are the party that can provide that.
‘Certainly we will be looking to take other seats in the area.’
Her visit comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn continues his tour of marginal UK seats.
Ms Griffith said defence was ‘extremely important’ to her party and that it was ‘absolutely vital’ the navy had the ‘best possible’ support.
‘I am extremely concerned that the current Conservative government is still dragging its feet on the shipbuilding strategy,’ she added.
‘We need to know what capabilities we are going to have in the future for our navy and we need to know what they are intending to do about that strategy.’
Mr Morgan now aims to get more senior Labour MPs to visit the city and get the ‘best possible deal’ for Portsmouth.
But the Tories have hit back, warning Labour ‘cannot be trusted’.
Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth City Council boss, said backing Labour would be a disastrous move for the city.
She said: ‘Labour’s policy on defence is both dangerous for the country and would jeopardise the UK’s standing as a major Nato power.
‘Their failure to confirm their commitment to the two per cent spend of GDP on the defence budget and the vulnerable position they would have left the UK in with the failure to renew Trident, means the Labour Party simply cannot be trusted when it comes to defence of the realm.
‘Portsmouth is a city with a strong and proud military history and the Conservatives have always put the needs of our armed forces as a top government priority.’
Cllr Jones added ex-Labour PM Gordon Brown had taken the decision to axe shipbuilding in Portsmouth and move it to Scotland to ‘secure votes’.
She said: ‘Labour simply cannot be trusted.’
In May, Ms Griffith said Labour was ‘committed’ to renewing Trident, with the party now announcing that they would commit to a two per cent spend of GDP on defence.