Our Next Leader – A View From Calder Valley

This week was tough to take. Our Labour family is hurting, but the last thing we need to do is to turn in on ourselves during the coming leadership contest. We will always agree on more than we disagree, and rebuilding our party is too important to risk on self indulgent fights. 

As it stands I’m hoping to stay out of the leadership election, but these should be guiding principles for everything we do:

Solidarity – I will support whoever is leader and I will not forgive those who try to define negatively any candidate.
It was David Miliband’s team who coined the term “Red Ed” and similar happened with Corbyn. Let’s never again send our leaders out with a broken bat.

Labour needs two wings to fly – This is as true now as when Tony Benn first said it. We need to reach beyond our current coalition to win and to do that we need to listen to all voices within our coalition. Just because they aren’t your candidate doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your respect.

We have control over the party, nothing more – We can’t blame externalities we have no control over. Yes, the media didn’t make it easier in the election and there are valid criticisms of them, but pretending it doesn’t exist won’t win us an election. Similarly Brexit made things tough, but our challenge was also how we respond to it and what we do next.

Learn – We need to think about the good and the bad of the campaign we just ran. What did we do to inspire thousands of activists with a message of hope. How did we fail to turn our fantastic policies into a story people could believe in.

Listen to voices from both sides – The defeat was not just a question of Brexit nor was it just a question of leadership – people who want to blame it all on one of the two will fail to address the whole picture. Ask questions of your own beliefs and consider the answers you don’t want to hear might be true.

It’s a long term job –  We have a potential 5 year Parliament, in that time the leader will have slings and arrows thrown at them from anything in their personal life, to the EHRC report. Think about what they’ll look like in 5 years and what they need to go through. Who is best place to respond?

Be kind to each other – Think mostly about those who need a Labour government. This week I spoke to someone who’s benefits were sanctioned just the week before Christmas. We must treat every candidate like they are that families best chance of seeing a Labour government.

Have someone -a voter- in mind – Who is our target audience? We all met someone on the doorstep who wanted to vote Labour but didn’t feel they could this time. Think about that person, not our strongest critics and how we can bring them back.

Let’s have a contest and conversation of ideas for our future not recriminations about our past. 

Anyone who listens to the views of others and challenges their own views is important to our future. Anyone who takes shots at a candidate they don’t support in pursuit of likes or retweets is not my comrade. 

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