Sunday, September 13, 2015

I did not vote for Corbyn but I will certainly campaign for him now he is Leader

Jeremy Corbyn won the election for Labour’s new leader and won it convincingly. He also won via a campaign that focused on issues not personalities on substance and not style.

He was not my choice for leader but I respect the decision of the membership and advise those who feel that they cannot accept the outcome to put up or shut up, to work to help achieve a Labour government or leave.

It took the Conservative party two lost elections before enough people were willing to back meaningful change. If Labour really is serious about getting swiftly back into government then it cannot afford to go through a long, painful and potentially damaging process of internal dissension. The truth is that many Labour members and supporters will have opposing interpretations of why we lost in 2010 and again in 2015 or about the direction we now need to take if we are to regain much of our lost support. Some will want the party to be more passionately principled whilst others will stress the need for sensible pragmatism. There will be calls for the new leader to champion the state whilst at the same time allowing market forces to operate with minimal impunity; to attack the causes of poverty but to also be the party that promotes aspiration. The longer these conflicting priorities are debated and discussed the longer we are likely to spend in opposition. Our core message should be simple and unambiguous: our values have not changed and our mission as a party is a clear today as it was a century ago – we really are stronger as a nation when we come together than we can ever be apart.

To his credit Corbyn recognises that members want to be heard and they want to be listened to. Perhaps even more important though is the need for the party to be more proactive in consulting and engaging local communities. It is only when local parties reach out and get involved in their communities that people will see Labour politics as a way of helping them deal with their problems and realising their hopes for a better future.

A renewed Labour party should be the natural place for people to turn to when they want to change things because a party that gets things done locally – and nationally – is a party that will keep winning elections. A renewed labour party will need to reflect the aspirations of ordinary people but it will also need to be realistic about the challenges that lie ahead. The forces of conservatism are not confined to our new coalition government, they exist within our own party and it will be up to those of us who believe passionately in the core values of our movement to take on the cynics and the pessimists within our own ranks, to become the change we want to see – be it in our party or in our country.

Who we are is who we were. Labour's core values can and must inform any future 'rebranding' of the party but we should not be afraid to do things differently. New Labour may well be over but Labour renewed is alive with possibility.

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