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Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall faces up to challenge of lost supporters while speaking at St Luke's Church Hall, Virginia Road, Gillingham

By Paul Francis

Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall says the party faces a major challenge in recovering lost supporters who defected to Ukip in Kent at the election.

Speaking at a hustings meeting in St Luke's Church Hall, Virginia Road, Gillingham on Tuesday, she said the party should not tailor policies towards particular parties but should “focus on the basics” that every voter was interested in.

Labour saw Ukip come second in several Kent seats where it has traditionally been a runner-up in May.

Labour Leadership contender Liz Kendall visits Gillingham for Q&A Session
Labour Leadership contender Liz Kendall visits Gillingham for Q&A Session

She also rejected claims the election was being infiltrated by left-wing groups trying to secure victory for Jeremy Corbyn.

Answering a question on how Labour would address the issue of former supporters switching to Ukip and the Green party she said:

“What has happened [to Labour] here epitomises the challenge the party faces. We have to focus on the basics: a job that pays a decent wage; a home to call their own; great schools so their kids can do well; decent public services.”

Labour Leadership contender Liz Kendall visits Gillingham for Q&A Session
Labour Leadership contender Liz Kendall visits Gillingham for Q&A Session

She said the party needed to wake up to the reality of the world of work, saying: “There are more people who are self-employed than on the minimum wage but what did we have to say to the self-employed? They have got to have pensions to pay into and how do they get maternity or paternity leave?”

She underlined her view that Labour needed to be more supportive of business. “The reason I will champion business and entrepreneurship, the reason I back wealth creation, is because it gives us the money to invest in education.”

Labour Leadership contender Liz Kendall visits Gillingham for Q&A Session
Labour Leadership contender Liz Kendall visits Gillingham for Q&A Session

On the claim that the leadership contest was being compromised by supporters of left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn, she said: “I have seen no evidence that it has been infiltrated.”

Ms Kendall is seen to be trailing in the contest behind her three rivals but insisted there was still everything to pay for.

However, she has the support of Tristan Osborne, who was candidate in Chatham and Aylesford, and Naushabah Khan, who fought Rochester and Strood.

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