23 July, 2015 Leave a Comment
This is the speech that I gave to Birmingham Selly Oak CLP at our nomination meeting:
“I’d like to tell you why I think that Liz Kendall ought to be the next leader of the Labour Party. A defeat of the magnitude that we experienced a little over four months ago poses some fundamental questions about what our objectives are as a party.
This leadership election isn’t just a question of who will be the face on the leaflets that we deliver. It is about much more than that. It is about whom we will be offering to the country as our next Prime Minister.
For me, Liz is the candidate who has the qualities to be our next Labour Prime Minister. She recognises that a Labour Party that is not in government is a Labour Party that cannot achieve the vision for a modern Britain to which we all aspire.
Liz recognises that that doesn’t mean turning our back on our Labour values – our vision of a world where power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few – it means achieving a Labour government so that we can act on our best instincts rather than simply shouting about them.
There is huge frustration and anger in the Labour Party and in the country at the moment. That can only be right: the consequences of a Tory government are plain to see. But how do we harness that anger and that outrage?
Opposing the government and their policies is a cause that can unite people and there will undoubtedly be fights that are worth having, but we must go further than that.
For me, the fundamental question is this: do we become a party that defines itself solely by opposition to the government, or do we become a party that harnesses that passion and translates it into a positive vision that we can take to the country in 2020?
I joined the Labour Party in 2008 because I was proud of the achievements of the Labour government under which I grew up. I grew up in a world where the NHS could be relied upon; where university education was a path open to all; and where your background didn’t determine your future.
When I joined the Labour Party, I knew nothing except Labour governments. The sad truth is that there probably aren’t too many members who can say the same.
If we look at what the Tories are doing now – to the most vulnerable in our society, to public services, and to those people who simply want to get on in life – they are able to do it because we let down those people who rely on a Labour government.
If I’ve learned anything about politics in the past five years it is the utter futility of being in opposition. I didn’t join the Labour Party to join a party of protest – I joined it to be in a party of government. It doesn’t matter how righteous the cause or how loud we shout unless we can take enough people with us. That means that we have to reach out to those people who have voted Conservative.
To me, that means backing Liz Kendall, and electing her as our next Labour Prime Minister. She is the candidate who can win over some of the 11 million decent people who voted Tory at the last election. She is the person who can stand up for our traditional values in a modern world.
We are entering a period in our party’s history were we will need a leader with the bravery to lead our party and the vision to win over our country. That’s why I am backing Liz Kendall to be the next leader of the Labour Party.”