Clive Lewis MP statement on close of Labour nominations

January 13, 2020

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CLIVE FOR LEADER PRESS RELEASE
 
13th January 2020
For immediate release
 
Clive Lewis MP statement on close of Labour nominations
 
Clive Lewis MP has issued a statement withdrawing from the Labour leadership election so that MPs who have supported him can recast their nominations.
 
Lewis said,
 
“For me, this election wasn’t about just the leadership of the Labour Party but about our survival as an engaging and relevant political movement that could win a path to power.
 
“At this stage, it’s clear that I won’t get on the ballot. So, I’m standing aside in the spirit of pluralism, diversity and generosity that I’ve promoted throughout this campaign, so that those who have supported me can recast their nominations.
 
“Whilst I’m disappointed not to have progressed further, I’m proud to have led the debate on key issues such as progressive alliances, electoral reform, democracy in our country, democracy within the Labour Party, racism and diversity, and the climate crisis. These issues aren’t going away and given the scale of our last defeat, need to tackled head on with sharp ideas and credible strategy so we can win the next election for the millions of people who deserve a Labour government.
 
“Leadership for me is about not always saying what people want to hear, but arguing a case that you think is right. There is a big and growing strand within and around the Labour Party that is radical, democratic, internationalist, green, open and pluralist. It needs to be represented more forcefully in the party and I stand by my conviction that these are the ideas of the future.
 
“It’s not always easy for us as MPs to hear a tough message of democratic reform at every level of the party and of the country, especially on issues such as the open selections. But the feedback I’ve received from Labour party members has been overwhelmingly positive and it is to these members that I now turn with this message. Thank you for your belief and trust in me, and know that my contribution to this election isn’t over. I’m going to continue to fight, inside and outside the Labour party, working with the broadest possible alliance possible, to ensure our future looks very different from our past. Join my campaign so that we can collaborate together in the coming months and years to push this agenda forward.
 
“I now throw down the gauntlet to other Labour leadership candidates and ask them if they are brave enough, strong enough, to take forward some of the issues in my manifesto. In the coming weeks I’ll be watching their responses closely before deciding who to support”
 
Ends.
………………………….
1. For further information about Clive Lewis’ leadership campaign and manifesto visit www.cliveforleader.com
2. For press enquiries please call Yasmin Khan on 07931337890
 

Clive Lewis speech, 10 Jan: full text and highlights

January 10, 2020

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Highlights

Today Clive Lewis MP set out his vision for how the Labour Party can win the next election, at a landmark speech at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, London.

In a speech entitled “Transform to Win”, the Norwich MP set out a radical series of changes he believes the Labour Party needs to make if it wants to win at the next election.

He said:
“I’m standing for leader because I want to completely transform and democratise the Labour party’s culture, organisation and programme, so it’s in tune with both our socialist values and the fast-changing context of the 21st Century.

“We have to accept that democracy is in crisis, that we face a climate catastrophe, and we epoch-defining possibilities and challenges from the tech revolution.

“We can’t have more of the same. The Labour party needs to modernise, or it will die.”

“I’m fed up with the top-down style of politics, where real debate and discussion in our party is stifled because of sectarianism and tribalism. We can’t grow as a party, if we’re afraid of having difficult discussions.”

“I’m standing because I see a party in crisis and democracy in crisis and unless we start addressing some fundamental issues, a few tweaks of policy here, or a slight change of leader there, aren’t going to bring the real change that this country urgently needs.”

On society and the new challenges we face
“Our society is going through one of its big periodic revolutions – and it’s based around technology. Just as electrification drove the industrial revolution that created the original Labour Party, the digital revolution is changing our lives in equally profound ways – and it will either give life to a new Labour Party – or it will see us destroyed – if we don’t see its danger and opportunities.”

“Labour Councils know this, Preston to Barking and Dagenham. They are there, on the ground, trying new and different ways of working. The Preston Model, which I find massively inspiring, was born out of the necessity of fighting austerity. Now, as the council becomes more confident in its success, it is looking for ways to apply new digital technologies, like using drones from its aerospace industry for the civic good. This is the kind of innovation that the Labour party needs to be drawing upon.”

“As people use the new technologies to find new ways of collaborating and working together, so, too, do they create new potential sources of power”

On the Labour Party
“We need to learn to collaborate with other parties and social movements. We need to realise and to admit that we don’t have the monopoly on all the answers, and that we are stronger if we can confidently work with others.”

“This means stop being a top-down party machine, and start devolving power in our party away from Head Office to the regions and the constituencies. We need to become a formidable force in all our communities, but that cannot be done by diktat from Southside.”

“That’s why I believe electoral reform is the litmus test of Labour’s survival – not as a test of purity but for the need for collaboration. A winner takes all politics just doesn’t allow us to deal he complexities of the world as it increasingly is.”

On Constitutional Reform
“We must come out in favour of proportional representation – not only because it is the fairest way to elect a Parliament, but also because it will put into practice our fundamental belief in the value of collaboration and cooperation.”

“We must abolish the House of Lords and move towards an elected second chamber. How can the public have faith in politics when people like Zac Goldsmith can lose their seat in a democratic election one week, get put in the House of Lords the week after, and be back in cabinet. It’s a public scandal and just demonstrates the crisis in our democracy.”

“This is why I back a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the rules of how we do democracy to bring it into the 21st century and if I lead the Labour Party, we will support and give legislative time for the outcomes of such an assembly.”

“And I don’t want this to be a talking shop. I want a Convention to bring people together, from all parts of the country and across the political divide, and start to draw up a written constitution for the United Kingdom. This must be a constitution that is written from the bottom up, to give people control over the type of country they would like to live in.”


Full text of the speech

Morning everyone and thanks for coming here today, to the Black Cultural Archives, in Windrush Square, the heart of Brixton.

This building documents not only the important history of the black community, but also the history of an important section of the working class in Britain.

My Dad was part of that history, being one of the Windrush Generation, who came to the UK from Grenada, one of the last bastions of the British Empire.

My Dad was a socialist and a trade unionist, who, alongside my English granddad worked in a food processing factory in Northampton and educated me on the central tenants of my values – solidarity, equality, justice and socialism.

Some of you might be thinking why have I come here, to Brixton, to launch my leadership election campaign.

Well, I’m here, because these are also the Labour heartlands and we can’t ignore that in this leadership election.

The Labour heartlands aren’t some fantasy geographical location of the past, they are all over the United Kingdom, in every community, every town and every city where people are struggling for a better life.

We, as a party, must not segregate our communities and pit them against each other, that’s what the Tories have been doing for years.

Rather, it is our job, to look at the very structures of our democracy and our economy and see how we can improve them so they serve the needs of all our diverse communities.

Migration and diversity

Today, as we stand on a precipice of leaving the European Union, we have to ask ourselves what kind of country do we want to be?

Are we a country that is open, inclusive and tolerant? A country that listens to all its communities, and believes in building bridges between them?

A country where power is not concentrated in a few hands at the top, but spread across society?

Or are we a country that is isolationist, intolerant and inward-looking. That frames its policies and role in the world through the filter of xenophobia. Where power is held and jealously guarded by a tiny elite.

We know, today, that actually we are a bit of all of this.

This place, Brixton, reminds us of our one of our greatest strengths. Our diversity. Brixton represents one of the biggest influx of migrants to the UK and this is something we should all be proud of. It’s something I am proud of.

Real leadership is about fighting for what you believe in. It’s about championing causes because they are morally and ethically right.

I’m proud to launch my campaign here, as, if elected leader, one of my priorities would be to champion the economic and cultural case for migration.

In fact, I’m standing for leader because I think the Labour party has for too long shied away from defending the good in the country we are, and setting out a vision for the country we could be.

The road back to government may be long, but unless we can set out a compelling vision for life in 21st century Britain, and how Labour can answer the challenges of the 21st century, we won’t be taking the first steps towards it.

The road back to government

We are at a pivotal moment for the Labour Party after our latest devastating defeat in December.

On the surface, Labour lost in December many reasons – Brexit, leadership, trust, perceived competence, the vilification of a the media that is a given for any Labour leader today – but I want to pay tribute to all the people, party members and not, who campaigned for Labour, argued for Labour, voted Labour. Thank you – your hard work and dedication made a real difference.

But, we have to be honest about the fact that we now face a determined and sophisticated political enemy in the Conservative Party. They have learned the lessons of the last few years, and will seek to shore up their new support. We have to be prepared for new and dangerous arguments from them about how the government should intervene in the economy – and for some old and dreadful arguments that pander to racism, whilst drifting us towards authoritarian.

This means we will need every bit of guile, energy and determination, both as a party and a movement, to not only take them on, but to beat them. But we have also to think strategically, to draw up a plan to recover from this loss and return to government.

To do this, we can’t just look at the loss of this last election. We also lost in 2017, 2015 and 2010. Indeed, when we won victories in the 2000s, we were already planting the seeds of future losses. Just look at the fact we lost 4m votes between 1997 and 2005 – we won more votes, in fact, in 2010 than in the election 15 years before.

And when we won in the 1960s and 1970s, those governments drifted in office, knocked off course and failing the high hopes placed in them.

It is no real comfort to hear these statistics, but we are not alone. Parties like Labour have been struggling the world over – sometimes in office but never with the ability to transform their societies, and increasingly marginalized. The German SPD, the French socialists, Pasok in Greece – none are the force they once were and many obliterated. There is a crisis in social democracy the world over.

So, let’s be clear, the challenge the Labour Party faces today isn’t just because it lost the last election, or the 3 before that. It’s the fact that in the last century its rarely been an election-winning party.

We’ve only won 8 out of 28 elections in the last century. To me, this says that there must be a fundamental flaw in what we are doing. I’m standing, so that we can talk about some home truths.

Looking ahead

We now have an opportunity for the labour movement to reflect on what went wrong, but also, importantly, to look forward and ask ourselves how on earth we will win the next election for the millions of people in this country who need a Labour government.

This moment is not just an opportunity for those standing for the leadership to put forward their vision, but also for all parts of our movement to engage in the discussion and debate together and the way we do this is critical.

I’m personally fed up with the top-down style of politics, where real debate and discussion in our party is stifled because of sectarianism and tribalism. We can’t grow as a party, if we’re afraid of having difficult discussions.

And that’s why I’m standing because I see a party in crisis and democracy in crisis and unless we start addressing some fundamental issues, a few tweaks of policy here, or a slight change of leader there, aren’t going to bring the real change that this country urgently needs.

If I look at the seats we lost, in the places where Labour was trusted for decades to speak for working class communities, I don’t think simply trying more of the same will work. The problems are too deep and the loss of trust too large for a few policy or messaging changes to deliver the shift we need.

We as a party fell victim the distrust of all politicians and the Westminster elite that the Conservatives weaponized very effectively during the campaign. We have to win back people’s trust.

How we do that, isn’t about just nodding along with whatever people say. Leadership, for me, is about leading – and that means trying to win the arguments. But it means having the humility to know that we cannot descend on parts of the country during an election campaign alone, with a manifesto like tablets of stone, and tell people what we think is best for them.

This is why I’ve long been a proponent of a Progressive Alliance – not just because I worry that Labour can’t win alone, but because we need to view point of Greens, Liberals and and others to meet the huge challenges before us.

There is an urgency to this. We need to get stuck in, right now, to the process of rebuilding trust. But to do that means having some humility, and having a long, hard look at how we work, our internal culture, and our political strategy.

Today I want to use this opportunity to touch on the only question that really matters in the Labour leader election : why does Labour keep losing and how it can win?

What winning means

I’ll begin by exploring what we mean by ‘win’. Because winning has to mean more than securing a majority in the House of Commons so that we occupy the state.

Being in office is not enough. Labour has been in office and done good things. But it has rarely been in power. It has rarely had the capacity to transform our country.

We did this once in 1945. We need to understand why and how we can do it 75 years later.

And I want to deal briefly here with New Labour, which won three elections and did many good things – but it did so by bending too far towards free markets, storing up many of the problems we face now.

New Labour bent itself out of shape because it felt the party was historically too weak and its adversaries too strong to do anything else. Stepping away from our values in order to get into office is not winning power.

We can compare this to Jeremy Corbyn, who rightly refused to bend his principles and stood out as a genuine alternative to the dominance of free markets, but lost twice. Having the right policies, a strong moral compass, and a much-enlarged party and movement are also not enough.

I want to win. I want a Labour government that is not just in office but that has the power to address the massive challenges we face today: climate change, inequality, and the economic and social transformations being wrought by new technology. I want a Labour government that works to build a fairer, more equal, more sustainable and more democratic society.

We won like this only once before in our history, in 1945. But the world that made Labour strong in 1945 – a world of big factories, strong trade unions, solid labour movement institutions – has long gone.

Today, we live instead in a world of where manufacturing is employs just one in ten, private sector union membership has crumbled, and the institutions that helped glue working class communities together have withered.

These fundamental features of our society are why New Labour felt it could do little but accommodate to global free markets – despite all the good it did – because its didn’t have the strength to do anything else. It is why Corbynism, while it refused to buckle, couldn’t win with the right polices or a bigger and energized membership.

Propped up by our first past the post electoral system, Labour can remain the biggest centre-left force in Britain – it can win cities and might occasionally be in office – but it will never be in power because too much is weighted against it if it tries to win with the current model.

It won’t matter how much we professionalise, or say we are going to listen to communities, or sharpen our messaging. The fundamental features of our society are skewed against a centralized Labour Party winning and then changing society in the way it could win in 1945.

The positive

So that’s the gloomy picture – one of weakness and drift. Of clutching at straws. Relying on individuals. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

Now let me tell where optimism and hope comes from – where do we find the light?

Well, we find it all around us – here and now – we find it in our communities, workplaces, public services, across sectors as diverse as care, renewables.

Our society is going through one of its big periodic revolutions – and its based around technology. Just as electrification drove the industrial revolution that created the original Labour Party, the digital revolution is changing our lives in equally profound ways – and it will either give life to a new Labour Party – or it will see us destroyed – if we don’t see its danger and opportunities.

Technology can connect us and bring us together as never before. Or, as we have seen, it can be used to divide us and turn us against one another.

What is at stake here is a huge political battle over the use of digital technology: does it enable a culture of compassion, or of ruthless competition?

The ideal of a good society was society was never be imposed from above – by leaders who do things for us and to us. The truly good society can only be created by us and for us.

People know this – and it is why in the spaces between the remote state and the free market, people are using technology and the human instinct to collaborate to do good. People are no longer waiting for politicians to change their lives and societies for them – they are getting on and doing it themselves.

Labour Councils know this from, Preston to Barking and Dagenham. They are there, on the ground, trying new and different ways of working. The Preston Model, which I find massively inspiring, was born out of the necessity of fighting austerity. Now, as the council becomes more confident in its success, it is looking for ways to apply new digital technologies, like using drones from its aerospace industry for the civic good. This is the kind of innovation that the Labour party needs to be drawing upon.

There are three critical insights we can draw from this analysis of technology and society that can show us how Labour might win power again.

The first is that it is a story based in the reality of life today. If we start from where we are now, we can lay out a path for where we want to get to.

Second, it starts to tell us how we might combat climate change. It’s not just in the big picture demands for investment spending, but the smaller changes – locally-owned renewables, smart grids, remote working.

Third, it can tell us where the power to change the world can be found. Not only in the trade unions, or at the ballot box, but right across our society. As people use the new technologies to find new ways of collaborating and working together, so, too, do they create new potential sources of power.

And we will need that power. Inequality, here and globally, is worsening as the super-rich hoard more and more of the world’s wealth, whilst digital technology has so far concentrated more and more power in a very few hands. The far right and the racists are emboldened, and on the march. And too many make too much money from continuing to pollute and despoil our planet to want to change.

To take on these challenges we will need a government not afraid to stand up to them – and with the capacity to act against them. For Labour to not only win office, but be able to act in office on its principles, it needs to make three fundamental changes.

First, the party has to find new ways to organize. The Labour Party can’t just be there at election time – we need community organizing, and local branches that can act as hubs for their community – whether by providing political education, or cultural events, or providing practical assistance to fight austerity.

Second, it we need to learn to collaborate with other parties and social movements. We need to realise and to admit that we don’t have the monopoly on all the answers, and that we are stronger if we can confidently work with others.

Third, it will mean stop being a top-down party machine, and start devolving power in our party away from Head Office to the regions and the constituencies. We need to become a formidable force in all our communities, but that cannot be done by diktat from Southside.

And we need to practice what we preach. I want to show that we are sincere and committed about creating a more equal and more democratic society. We have asked others to stick to pay ratio – it is time Labour did the same. No staff member, no matter how senior, should be paid more than five times the poorest.

Policy

It’s why I believe electoral reform is the litmus test of Labour’s survival – not as a test of purity but for the need for collaboration. A winner takes all politics just doesn’t allow us to deal he complexities of the world as it increasingly is.

We must come out in favour of proportional representation – not only because it is the fairest way to elect a Parliament, but also because it will put into practice our fundamental belief in the value of collaboration and cooperation.

We must abolish the House of Lords and move towards an elected second chamber. How can the public have faith in politics when people like Zac Goldsmith can lose their seat in a democratic election one week, get put in the House of Lords the week after and be back in cabinet. It’s a scandal and just demonstrates the crisis in our democracy.

This is why I back a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the rules of how we do democracy to bring it into the 21st century and if I lead the Labour Party, we will support and give legislative time for the outcomes of such an assembly.

And I don’t want this to be a talking shop. I want a Convention to bring people together, from all parts of the country and across the political divide, and start to draw up a written constitution for the United Kingdom. This must be a constitution that is written from the bottom up, to give people control over the type of country they would like to live in.

The constitutional question is unavoidable, and we should stop sticking our head in the and trying to avoid it. In Scotland, I have every sympathy with those who think the best route out of neoliberalism is independence. It wouldn’t be my preference as I believe we need the maximum possible devolution of powers in a federal United Kingdom (including in England) and not more separation and more borders. But we as a party should not be opposing legitimate demands for a second independence referendum. We can’t call ourselves democrats if we ignore the message Scottish voters are sending us.

This Sunday I will release a manifesto with more of these policy ideas about how we modernize our country for our increasingly networked society. I want to build on and sharpen the offer we made in the 2019 general election. We need big ideas to overcome the enormity of the challenge ahead of us.

Conclusion

In short, I’m standing for leader because I want to completely transform and democratise the Labour party’s culture, organisation and programme, so it’s in tune with both our socialist values and the fast-changing context of the 21st Century.

We have to accept that democracy is in crisis, that we face a climate catastrophe, and we epoch-defining possibilities and challenges from the tech revolution.

We have to get real about the issues that we face and the learn the lessons not just of the last 4 general election defeats but of 40 years of failed neo-liberal policies that have left many parts of our country behind.

We can’t have more of the same. The Labour party needs to modernise, or it will die.

I believe I can unite the party around this and develop a style of collaborative leadership that is relevant to this century, not the last one.

This means organising from the grassroots up and not having an autocratic party machine that dictates from the top-down.

And I’m standing in this leadership election to lead this fight.

 

Clive Lewis MP initiates cross-party initiative with the Green Party on Green New Deal

January 8, 2020

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CLIVE FOR LEADER PRESS RELEASE

8th January 2020
For immediate release

Clive Lewis MP initiates cross-party initiative with the Green Party on Green New Deal

Clive Lewis MP has extended an invitation to Green parliamentarians that, if he is elected to lead the Labour Party, the two parties should work together on a two-year Green New Deal Transformation Project to build the ideas, movements and democratic structures that would enable a GND to be introduced.

The project will be about working with campaigners, local authorities and companies to explore ways to take action together locally, and prepare the groundwork for its full introduction ahead of the next General Election so that, at that election, the Project will have fully developed ideas and practices that, subject to their respective parties’ approvals, will appear in each party’s manifesto.

Clive Lewis MP said:
“I have long been committed a more plural politics and this is a tangible way of delivering on that commitment. We need a new politics of collaboration and openness as the building blocks of the political forces and practices necessary for progressives to take power nationally by 2024 at the latest.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas said:
“I very much welcome this practical demonstration of cross-party working that builds on the work we have already been doing together on plans for a Green New Deal. The Green Party has been championing a comprehensive Green New Deal for over 10 years and, as the climate emergency accelerates, it’s more important than ever that we explore all possible ways of delivering it.”

Green peer Natalie Bennett said: 
“Politicians representing the majority of the British people, the 56% who did not vote Conservative in December’s General Election, need to show what a truly democratic future can look like. Cross-party, grown-up approaches to initiatives such as a comprehensive Green New Deal offer a real glimpse of what is possible in a fully elected, truly representative parliament.”

ENDS
NOTES

1. For further information about Clive Lewis’ leadership campaign visit www.cliveforleader.com
2. For interviews and other press requests please contact 07931337890

 

Clive Lewis MP to set out vision for Labour Party in major speech

January 8, 2020

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CLIVE FOR LEADER PRESS RELEASE
 
8th January 2020
For immediate release
 
Clive Lewis MP sets out vision for Labour Party in major speech
 
Location: Brixton, SW2 1EF
Date and Time: Friday 10th January at 11.00am (doors open 10.30)
 
Norwich MP Clive Lewis will set our his vision for dealing with the crisis the Labour Party faces this Friday, in a major speech at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton.

He will outline, in detail, the structural and cultural steps Labour need to take to get out of the hole they are in so that they are not just ready to be in office in 5 years time but ready for power.
 
Clive Lewis MP said: 
“To win the next election, the Labour Party needs to completely transform our party culture, organisation and programme, so it’s in tune with both our socialist values and the fast-changing context of the 21st Century.

“The social democratic project is in crisis all over the world and we can’t expect to use the same old campaign tactics and expect to win. The public have lost faith in our democratic institutions, we face a climate catastrophe and epoch-defining possibilities and challenges from the tech revolution. We have to be forward thinking and realise the needs of working people in 10 years’ time will be very different to what they are today. The Labour Party needs to modernise to meet these new challenges. We can’t go on as we were before. We need to Transform to Win”
 
ENDS
NOTES

1. For further information about Clive Lewis’s leadership campaign visit www.cliveforleader.com
2. For interviews and other press requests please contact 07931337890
 

I’ve lived the benefits of diversity – and that’s why I’m standing for the Labour leadership

January 2, 2020

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from the Independent

The last few years have been a tumultuous time for ethnic minorities and migrants in the UK. A toxic debate around Brexit has unleashed a torrent of racism into British society, leading to a climate of fear and a sharp rise in hate crimes and racist attacks since the 2016 referendum. Labour’s inability to deal effectively with the antisemitism crisis has contributed to a sense of division between our communities, which we urgently need to address. There is no hierarchy of discrimination or racism, everyone deserves to live without fear and feel heard and the first job of any aspiring prime minister is to help our people live together harmoniously.

The issue of identity has become one of the most toxic political footballs of our times. All over the world, far-right parties are exploiting economic inequality and failed austerity policies to create an ugly political framework of Us vs Them, of division and bigotry. We must stand up to this, not only by urgently restructuring our economic model to fit the needs of the modern workforce and impending climate crisis, but also by putting forward an alternative, positive vision for our country. A vision of a country that is inclusive and tolerant, that listens to the needs of its local communities and believes in building bridges between them. A vision that is built from the bottom up so every part of our society feels it has ownership over its destiny. To do that we need a new narrative of what it means to be British, post-Brexit. The campaign for remaining in the EU is over. Now, we have to campaign for the kind of country we want to be as the process of leaving unfolds.

Today, the Labour Party faces a choice. Do we triangulate to the right and attempt to mimic their frames around migration and a distorted view of patriotism, that contributes to the country becoming more xenophobic, isolationist and inward-looking? Or do we champion the benefits of internationalism, put forward the economic and cultural case for migration, and build solidarity between our diverse communities through greater social and economic equality? Yes, we have to listen, but the onus must also be to lead – especially if what we hear is racist or runs counter to our values.

My lived experience, as a mixed-heritage black man, helps provide me with some possible answers. In many ways, the story of my family is the story of Britain. My Dad came to the UK from Grenada, one of the last bastions of the British Empire. Along with my English mum, we lived on a council estate in Northampton where, nearby, my Dad worked in a food processing factory and over time became increasingly involved in his trade union, eventually becoming a full-time trade union official for the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union. Alongside him in the factory worked my English granddad, a white working-class veteran of the Allied invasion of Normandy in the Second World War. On paper, you couldn’t have come up with two people with more different lives. But it was their shared values that made us work as a family and taught me that people, no matter what their differences are, have so much in common.

Growing up with both a white and a black family was confusing and challenging. The 1970s were a time of racist violence on the streets and in our schools. In my experience, getting taunted with racist language and the “Ain’t no black in the Union Jack” jingoism of the Seventies and Eighties was commonplace. But my mixed heritage also gave me an incredible gift. It taught me how to forge a new identity through commonality. For both sides of my family, despite their differences, could unite over their shared values of solidarity, trade unionism, socialism, compassion and respect.

My Granddad instilled in me a great sense of civic duty through his stories of fighting the Nazis during the war. He also fostered a sense of black pride and struggle in me, as he taught me about colonial history. My sense of belonging didn’t come from some idealised construct of the past but was created in the present, through the everyday experiences of the people I grew up with. This sense of belonging based on shared values and interests is what I want to bring to our country now.

Part of this means not further compounding divisions in this country by creating a gulf between Labour voters in the north and midlands and that of Bame voters in the newer Labour heartlands of the inner cities.

It also means accepting that our political system is broken and our democratic institutions are not fit for purpose. They divide us through competition when they should bring us together through collaboration. We need radical change in order to bring about a cultural shift in this country and this has to include changing the electoral system, reforming our election rules, and not just paying lip service to devolution but actively engaging with the needs of people in Scotland and Wales.

I don’t have all the answers but I do know that the Labour Party can’t do this alone. For years, I’ve championed the need to build progressive alliances both inside and outside the Labour Party, to construct the broadest coalition of people to work together on issues we can agree on. The global rise of the far right is facilitated in part through their exceptional organisation. Progressive forces in the UK need to modernise and do the same. Just like in my life, diversity makes progressives stronger, not weaker. As Labour Party leader, I would prioritise building these alliances and putting aside our futile tribalism. This is how we can win.

The Labour Party has rescued the country from great crises before and we can do it again. But only when we are brave enough to change. In the 1930s it was the Labour movement that was the first to stand against fascism, and in 1945, when our country was broken after the end of the war, it was a Labour government that had a vision to rebuild the UK by creating shared public institutions such as the welfare state and the NHS. Today, the crisis we face, after a decade of austerity and 40 years of failed neo-liberal policies is just as severe. While I tip my hat to New Labour’s effective communications and election-winning formula, in 2024 we must win for a much deeper purpose.

The Green New Deal offers us a toolbox through which we can do this, to regenerate the country, create jobs, invest in the regions, build vital local infrastructure and crucially, introduce pioneering local participatory democracy initiatives. This is how we can build a collective vision of what identity means in modern Britain – through collective action. I love this country and it angers me that those in power are stretching it to destruction. That’s why I’m standing for Labour Party leader, I want to lead a country that truly serves all its people and is a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.

 

I’m standing to be Labour leader so the truth can be heard

December 19, 2019

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from the Guardian

I’m standing to be leader of the Labour party for the simple reason that if I don’t, certain necessary truths may go unspoken during the debates of the coming months.

A leadership competition is not an ideal context for honest reflection. The aim is, after all, to win, not to learn and build. In a divided party, there is always a danger that factions will overcome facts; or, with a compromise candidate, that triangulation will trump truth. I want to break this cycle: to use the leadership campaign as an opportunity for us all to learn from each other, and to help our party grow.

That’s the first reason I’m standing: for a chance to tell the truth. With our party on the edge of a precipice, now is the time to dispel our fears and face up to reality. Anything else would mean that the millions of people who still need a Labour government, so badly, would be failed again.

The truth is that to change our country, we have to change ourselves.

Last week’s crushing defeat now poses two simple questions. Why did we lose? And how do we win?

The truth is that despite his enormous achievements in inspiring a new generation of members, Jeremy Corbyn’s first promise as leader was never fulfilled. The party was never democratised on the scale or to the extent that members were led to expect – they were never empowered to campaign, select candidates or determine policy on the scale that was required. This must now change. We don’t need foot soldiers, we need an army of activists who think critically, treat each other with respect and have a serious democratic stake in the movement. I don’t want to manage the labour movement, I want to unleash it. That is the first route to victory.

The truth is that while making a clear break with the New Labour era in terms of policy and personnel, the party was never able to communicate this to voters in our heartlands. When trying to persuade them of our radicalism and sincerity, we often had the legacy of the 2000s thrown back in our faces. Persuading voters that we understand the sources of their long-held resentment and frustration, of their disappointment in how Labour has conducted itself since the 1990s, will be the first step towards winning back their trust.

The truth is that indecisiveness and triangulation on the Brexit issue saw Jeremy’s favourability ratings fall from positive to catastrophic after the June 2017 election. Such prevarication and lack of leadership must never characterise our politics again.

The truth is that after Jeremy became leader, we fought two elections on an electoral system that massively favours the Conservatives, and their voter base of propertied pensioners. A majority of the British public voted for parties of the left or the liberal centre. But this was in no way reflected in the election result. Labour should have committed itself to changing the voting system decades ago, and we have condemned some parts of our country to 40 years of decline by failing to do so.

But to go forward from this point we must tell the truth, not just about what went wrong, but also about what kind of society we believe in. In 2019, we offered some of the right abstractions about promoting equality and opposing austerity. But we never painted a rich and textured picture of life in the society that we proposed to build. Instead we offered a shopping list of rather disconnected policies.

It’s not such lists people live their lives by, but emotions and feelings. My vision for the country is of warmth and energy. A country that starts every conversation and every project – either in business or politics – with a belief in the best in people. This is the hopeful creed of a 21st-century socialism. It is what motivates our members and our most passionate supporters.

Any politics animated by such a positive vision must also be prepared to stand and fight against its enemies, those who degrade our society for their own benefit. Many of our towns have never recovered from the catastrophe of Thatcherism. Young people can’t find homes or meaningful work. Old people struggle without the care they need. None of this has happened by accident, or because of some technical error. It is the result of systematic efforts by the elite, which Boris Johnson represents, to plunder our country to their own advantage.

They will seek to divide us by blaming immigrants and other vulnerable people, and we must not let them.

Two forces will shape our future, and the context of the next general election: the climate crisis and the ongoing technological revolution. Both can be sources either of despair or hope. We can hide behind platitudes and denial, or we can seize these crises as opportunities to renew our country as it has not been renewed since the 1940s.

Everything is down to us and how we react to these changes. Do we seek rich lives within nature’s boundaries, or the desolation that Johnson’s brand of disaster capitalism will ensure? Do we seek a connected, collaborative and more equal society or a world of perpetual surveillance and exploitation?

To convincingly offer such a vision and respond to the hope and fears of climate and technology we need a different kind of party. One that is open, democratic, inquisitive and that expresses solidarity with others inside the party and outside. Labour must be the anchor of a broad movement for change.

We can start to transform the party now. I don’t want to beat the other candidates; I want to learn from them and with them. I want us to use this campaign to reach out to every other progressive force in the country – parties, campaigns and movements – for the biggest conversation possible about how, together, we can change our country for the better. Nothing else will do.

Even at this dark hour, as Labour suffers its own Dunkirk, as retreat is forced on us, I’m an optimist. And my hope is founded in the unshakable belief I have in all of us. People are amazing. Given the support, care and time we can do incredible things. Our job, in the words of Raymond Williams, is “to make hope possible, not despair convincing”. Labour can and must offer hope: not the falsehood that it will do everything, but the real promise that it can help us help each other.