In May we secured a Labour win in Bermondsey and Old Southwark. I am proud to have won back the seat for Labour after 32 years. I am enormously proud of – and grateful to – the hundreds of members, supporters and activists who helped deliver that win. We thought that winning back Bermondsey would help towards Labour being the largest party in parliament, but sadly face a Tory Government – albeit with a small majority.
Cameron’s tiny majority is likely to come unstuck on certain issues. On human rights it has already occurred. Housing will be more divisive – especially in London with Mayoral elections next year. But on Europe the Tories look set to weaken themselves again, potentially repeating the collapse of unity seen under Major’s 1992-97 administration. With Cameron already having announced he’ll be stepping down in this Parliament, his rivals and their supporters will want to demonstrate what they’d do differently with an eye on Tory members’ support for the ensuing election.
I hope Labour is ready to exploit the advantages that will come out of Tory divisions. On housing we need to be clearer that we’re the Party committed to tackling the crisis – for renters as well as first time buyers, students and in housebuilding overall.
On Europe we face a significant risk given the leadership selection and who the polls now favour. We need to be united in the pro-EU case and this may not be possible given Corbyn’s position: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/25/jeremy-corbyn-draws-fire-position-future-britain-eu-membership
Members and registered supporters will receive ballot papers soon. It is imperative that all members, especially long-standing members who have previously failed to participate, use their votes this time in what is a crucial decision for our Party.
Your vote and voice could help ensure we have the best leadership team, able to get us back into Government. Make no mistake: being sat opposite braying Tories is no joy in the Commons, but it is far more miserable to think of the damage they will cause to our community, friends and neighbours over the next five years – having already been helped in the last five through Lib Dem Simon Hughes’ collusion.
By the time we reach the next general election, Labour will have been in Opposition a decade. I want that to end. I want Labour back in Government to ensure we are not standing idle and watching as the Tories implement an agenda on which they didn’t win in May, as Yvette Cooper has highlighted excellently in this piece: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/06/david-cameron-won-general-election-with-series-of-lies-says-yvette-cooper
To be a Party of protest is not enough, as our last Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, put it this weekend: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33951252
We need to be implementing the Labour agenda that we know our community needs on housing, health and social care, the economy and fair pay, and on social security. To do that we need a new leader capable of winning back the centre and left of British politics. I believe we only win when we're both.
In 1945 our values spoke for the whole nation. Wilson echoed them with his wins and in 1997 we occupied the centre-left firmly and were able to deliver a reduction in poverty, the National Minimum Wage, the Human Rights Act and the European social chapter. We must regain that ground and ensure we aren't just Left – and left on the sidelines watching the Tories in Government again, letting down the people we seek to represent and serve.
So please use your votes to choose the candidates you think will help ensure we can put our values into practice and prevent, not just bemoan, continued Tory rule.
Your ballot paper should arrive soon and you need to return it in the post no later than 9th September. It will include leader, deputy leader, London mayor and London Assembly Member candidates. Please vote in each category.
When voting, please remember to put your order of preference next to the candidates (I’ll put 1 for Yvette Cooper, 2 for Liz Kendall and 3 for Andy Burnham). Do not just put an X next to one candidate – as it seems unlikely anyone will win on the first round. Your second and third preference could be important.
For the deputy leadership I’m backing Tom Watson, for London Mayor I support Sadiq Khan and for the Lambeth and Southwark Greater London Assembly place I support Dora Dixon-Fyle.
You’ll also get a vote in other national committee selections – vote on these selections too.
- For the Conference Arrangements Committee I’ll be backing Gloria de Piero and Michael Cashman.
- For the National Constitutional Committee I’m supporting Judith Blake.
- For the National Policy Forum I’m backing Unmesh Desai, Alon Or-Bach, Nicky Gavron, Fiona Twycross and Jack Falkingham as the Youth Rep.
Please also remember to complete your ballot paper and send it back straight away.
If you’d like to discuss my preferences or any of the selections then please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.