Labour needs to think carefully about future, say Sunderland MPs

WINNERS: MPs Sharon Hodgson (left), Bridget Phillipson (centre) and Julie Elliott (right) at the Sunderland Election Count.

WINNERS: MPs Sharon Hodgson (left), Bridget Phillipson (centre) and Julie Elliott (right) at the Sunderland Election Count.

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ONE of Sunderland’s victorious MPs said the Labour Party needs to “think carefully” about its future after the crushing election defeat by the Conservatives.

Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday stood down after the Conservatives swept into power by taking 100 seats more than their rivals.

Nobody expected this result, and we need a bit of time for reflection. It’s Ed’s decision to stand down and we have to move forward because I absolutely believe in the Labour Party.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott

David Cameron’s party secured the 326 seats needed for a majority government, their first such victory since they were lead by John Major in 1992.

As well as Mr Miliband, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg also announced that he would be stepping down after his party was left with just eight seats.

In his resignation speech, Mr Miliband said: “Friends, this is not the speech I wanted to give today because I believed that Britain needed a Labour government.

“I still do, but the public voted otherwise last night.

“I take absolute and total responsibility for the result and our defeat at this election.

“I am so sorry for all of those colleagues who lost their seats – Ed Balls, Jim Murphy, Margaret Curran, Douglas Alexander and all the MPs and indeed candidates who were defeated.”

Julie Elliott, who safely defended Sunderland Central seat, told the Echo: “I think what Ed said in his speech is where we are.

“We need to think carefully about the future.

“Nobody expected this result, and we need a bit of time for reflection.

“It’s Ed’s decision to stand down and we have to move forward because I absolutely believe in the Labour Party.

“We are the right people for the party I represent.”

Wearside’s other Labour MPs, Sharon Hodgson and Bridget Phillipson, successfully defended their Washington and Sunderland West, and Houghton and Sunderland South seats.

Ms Phillipson said: “I would like to pay tribute to Ed Miliband for his leadership and commitment to the Labour Party.

“Ed has constantly fought for a fairer country.

“However, the party now needs to have an open debate about the right way forward and I am sure, that with a new leadership team in place, we will provide the strong opposition this country and my constituents need.”

While it is a time to formulate a new national strategy for Labour, it is an occasion to celebrate for the Conservatives.

Tory councillor Peter Wood said of his party’s victory: “It’s a tremendous result and a lot better than the polls were predicting in the last few weeks.

“I know Alex Salmond (former Scottish National Party leader) was talking about Scotland roaring, but I think in this case England has roared back.

“The result will help us continue on the economic recovery we are experiencing.”

Coun Wood, who held his St Michael’s ward seat in Sunderland’s local election, said: “I’m delighted with my own personal result, but disappointed that we lost a couple of councillors.

“Before Thursday we had eight councillors and unfortunately we are now down to six.

“It’s good to have an opposition on the council to hold Labour to account. The fewer members we have got, the more difficult that becomes.”

After an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace to confirm his second term in office, Mr Cameron returned to Downing Street with a pledge to restore unity to the country after a bruising five-week campaign.

Speaking on the steps of No 10, Mr Cameron said he would press ahead with the promised further devolution to Scotland.

“As we conduct this vital work we must ensure that we bring our country together.

“We will govern as a party of one nation, one United Kingdom,” he said.

“It means bringing together the different nations of our United Kingdom. I have always believed in governing with respect.”