Many people said that what we needed after the General Election was time to reflect, to absorb what had happened, to think about where we go from here and how and to debate all this constructively, before embarking on another leadership contest.
Well, we have a leadership contest, but this does bring with it opportunities for debate and reflection. It's interesting being able to watch some of this from the constituency rather than in the middle of Westminster. At least here I get to reflect, read and also speak to colleagues as well as members and constituents - silver linings in every cloud!
I was also fortunate that the timing of our last Labour Party constituency meeting was the day before my chemotherapy started so I could facilitate a discussion along the lines I describe above and get better informed about how people in the membership here are feeling. It was great to see so many new members as well as long standing ones, people worried about the coming months and years under a Tory government Bristol West definitely didn't vote for, people with all sorts of experience to contribute and people glad they have a Labour MP and a team of volunteer activists they can be part of.
I can report that in Bristol West we do not have a consensus around a particular leadership candidate and that the tweets of one of the candidates that we had endorsed him are not accurate. By now, our chair will have contacted his team and asked him to clarify.
One of my colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party, our very talented Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt, has been extremely welcoming and supportive to new MPs and I have really valued hearing from him about his views on his brief and the way he welcomes other contributions to the critical debates about education. He has also been reflecting on the big questions about the Labour Party and a speech he made yesterday to the Policy Network is particularly helpful for those who are also interested in productive, challenging reflection about the future of our party.
I would be very interested in other people's thoughts on this speech or other writing about this topic. Tweet me at @tdebbonaire or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have thoughts or links to other articles.
I've made it clear, I am supporting Yvette Cooper in the leadership contest and pretty much every day I have further confirmation of my reasons. Tristram has come to a different conclusion about leadership - he is supporting Liz Kendall. I want to make it clear that I think all candidates have excellent qualities, they are all Labour colleagues who believe in the Labour Party and want the very best for our country. And as it turns out, the leadership contest does seem, in some ways, to be providing us with the opportunity to debate how we help to achieve this.