As I wrote last week, the start of a new year often means taking some big decisions, and the start of this particular new year has brought me – and hundreds of thousands of other Labour Party members – face to face with a particularly important choice. Following the incredibly disappointing result in last month’s general election, we need to choose the leadership team that we feel stands the best chance of beating the Tories in five years’ time and forming a Labour Government with the policies that will transform Britain for the better.
Getting this right is absolutely vital. I know from conversations with people across Denton and Reddish that the events of the past few years have made some Labour voters wonder whether they can still trust us to be on their side. Some have felt that Labour hasn’t been listening properly. Whoever wins the leadership and deputy leadership of the party, it’s essential that they show that the Labour Party is listening to people in places like Tameside and that we aren’t taking anyone’s support for granted.
It’s not just important for the Labour Party that we get a strong leadership team, but for the country as a whole. In any democracy, it is essential to have a strong and credible alternative to the Government, but it is particularly important right now in the UK. Over the past decade the Tories have done untold damage to our communities – cutting funding for our vital public services (including police numbers and school funding) and introducing disastrous policies like Universal Credit and the Bedroom Tax. They’ve done all of that without ever having a strong majority in Parliament. Now that they have that, we need to have the best leadership possible so that we can fight back.
With this in mind, I had absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in nominating my brilliant Tameside colleague Angela Rayner as Deputy Leader. Angela has been fantastic at holding the Government to account in her role as Shadow Education Secretary and is just the kind of tough campaigner we need as Deputy Leader.
I thought long and hard about who to nominate as leader. We have five great candidates – including two brilliant Greater Manchester MPs, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey – and all of them have something to offer. However, after attending his launch in Manchester last week and speaking to members locally, I have decided to nominate Keir Starmer. I have been really impressed by Keir whilst working alongside him in the Shadow Cabinet and believe that the Keir and Angela would be a formidable team that would help us win back the trust of the British people. Only by winning back trust can we ever hope to win back power.