A Comment on the Leadership Result

First and foremost we would like to extend our congratulations to Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner and wish them well in the challenges that lie ahead, none more so than the immediate crisis of a pandemic that is causing jobs to be lost, people to feel isolated and the terrible prospect of losing loved ones. Right now, more than ever, the country needs a strong Opposition and this formidable leadership team will head up a team very capable of working in the national interest, whilst holding the Tories to account.

It is time for us all to work together to rebuild trust and confidence in the Labour Party and to exemplify the values of democratic socialism we all hold dear.

As we think about the future, it is important that we not only listen to all who represent the broad church of our Party, but speak to those electorates have the power to make us a government for positive change.

A few months ago, Open Labour invited all the candidates to sign up to pledges which included standing for a transformative socialist economic agenda, and making sure this is credible and coherent, and that it resonates with voters priorities. We sincerely hope that the new Shadow Chancellor is one that can reflect the needs of our Party and nation going forward, a Shadow Chancellor not afraid to call out austerity for the failed ideology it is. 

We also hope the new leadership will lead on the much needed review of the Party’s campaign infrastructure, policy-making processes and priorities, and examine the workings of the NEC and the Leader’s Office to ensure transparency and effectiveness. This will enable bridges to be built and openness to develop so members feel included and represented fully.

Open Labour have long campaigned for a more pluralist party and we will hold the leadership to a commitment to adopt the voting system used to elect the leader (STV) for use in all internal elections above CLP level, guaranteeing wider and more accurate representation in our governing bodies; this accountability and democratisation should be extended to all socialist societies, affiliates and Labour member-based organisations who should be required to ballot their members before endorsement of candidates, and to give all candidates an opportunity to be heard by their members.

Finally, we asked that the new leader broadens Labour’s international cooperation with like-minded parties and civil society in other countries and works to strengthen our relationship with non-UK citizens resident in the UK, fighting any effort by the government to use Brexit to reduce rights and living standards for all residents and we feel particularly passionate about this.

We, like everyone else, listened carefully to Keir’s victory speech today and were glad that he addressed the concerns of the nation before touching on policy issues. We were also pleased to hear him address a subject we have been outspoken on for a long time, that of antisemitism within our ranks, and we will support him 100% to eradicate our Party from the scourge of antisemitism or as Keir put it “tear this poison out by its roots.”

The losing candidates have been magnanimous in defeat, with Rebecca Long-Bailey saying that Keir would make a “fantastic prime minister” and she couldnt wait to “see him in Number 10”. As our members backed Lisa Nandy (although Keir was second and unable to attend our hustings for family reasons), we approached one of her team for some reflection on what has transpired. Alex Norris MP told us “Lisa said at the outset that we need to confront some difficult truths and that’s what she did. She brought people together from Vauxhall to Bassetlaw, uniting George Monbiot and the GMB – starting the building of that Red Wall. We’re proud of the positive campaign we fought.”  

The latter sums up many members feelings about this campaign, it was built on trust and goodwill and positive politics and, although a little genteel at times, we hope it demonstrates the future of Labour politics and also hope that Keir will include both of the very talented losing candidates in his shadow cabinet.

We also spoke to one of Starmer’s backers today, Bill Esterson MP who described Keir as a “once in a generation politician” who would “stand out in any era;“. Bill said “… his time has come to serve our Party and our country.” Thinking of the pandemic crisis we now find ourselves in, Bill further said: “I look forward to working closely with our new leadership team as we work through the coronovirus crisis and beyond, hold the government to account and rebuild support amongst the public. We must now work together to make the case for an economy and public services which are in the interests of the many.”

The wins for Keir and Angela today certainly gives them a mandate for an exciting transformative agenda for our Party and the nation. For many there is a solid vision that the road back to government begins today and Open Labour pledges to play our part in shaping that transformative vision into winning strategies that takes us to government with a changed culture, internal structures fit for purpose and a sustainable left policy platform. 

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