It seems we now have a process and date for the election of the new Leader of the Labour Party. I first got involved in these elections when I joined the John Smith leadership bid as the East Midlands CLP co-ordinator It was the first time I got to meet a lifelong friend – Robin Cook MP who was coordinating the campaign for John. In the end I didn’t really learn that much as I think we won some 94% of the vote. It was’nt a difficult sell. It did however mean that when John Smith sadly passed away I did feel something deeply emotional as he had become a part of my life and I was always impressed by his genuine warmth. How sad that both John and Robin are no longer with us.
I had met Blair before he ran for the leadership at a Regional conference and was deeply impresssed by him. Don’t forget this was in 1993! I supported his leadership bid but mainly from the sidelines. Next time I got a chance to be involved was after the 2010 defeat. Whilst not exactly at the heart of the campaign I did help the David Miliband team in Leicestershire and pledged my support to David. As I ponder who to vote for this time round, the reason I supported David will become clear.
I was probably more ideologically aligned to Ed Miliband, but having lost a middle-England seat to the Tories – and having been an MP in the sort of seat we need to win to help the poorest in society – I felt it was necessary to support a leader who could deliver a Labour government and not an ideological Labour opposition. That was why I supported David – who time after time people have told me in Loughborough we should have selected in 2010. I am afraid we live in a society that thrives on ‘personality’ and the ability to communicate. I really like Ed personally, but recognised he was never going to have this quality. It is something I hate saying, but it is a very sad fact of modern day politics. I kept my mouth shut for the last 5 years. I respected the decision of the Party and have been very loyal. I never spoke out once against Ed. During the campiagn and especially when #milifandom broke out I wondered if I had actually been wrong and people could see beyond the image. Unfortunately as the polls closed I realised I was right.
So as we head into this election I will be considering which of my friends & collegaues to vote for. I will not be doing it on the basis of who I know or like best. I won’t be doing it on the basis of who I think I’m ideologically closest to. I will be doing it for the selfish reason of wanting a leader who can both lead our dificult Party – and also who can appeal to middle england where we need to win our 100 seats back! I want a leader who can help us win back places like Loughborough.
It requires a seperate anlaysis of why we lost and what we can do to win again. And I have to admit the job looks almost impossible in one term. The leader faces the problem of winning in seats like Loughborough & tougher ones in the South. In Scotland it has to come back from oblivion after being outflanked to the left! And in the North we won but face the threat of the erosion of our traditional supporters to UKIP.
So who best fits this requirment? Over the next few days when all the candidates are announced I will run my thoughts over each and how I feel they can perform. I onl have 1 vote like hundreds of thousands of others but I intend to use it to help us win the next election – not perform some ideological purification.