I consulted members and voters, listened to constituents on the doorstep and also spoke to three of the remaining leadership candidates and some of their teams, plus I’d previously spoken to key campaigners in the team for the other candidate.
In 2015, with strong women in leadership roles within the Labour party, I am pleased that two of the four candidates are women, all with different perspectives and approaches. In these circumstances, for me to nominate a male candidate they would have to have excellent understanding of gender equality and of the massive, transformative contribution the last Labour government made to women’s lives as well as the work we still have to do .
I also want someone who is proud of our time in government, in which we built schools and hospitals, brought in the minimum wage, introduced Sure Start, Education Maintenance Allowance and tax credits, invested in public services, brought down hospital waiting times from years to nothing – and so much more. Any credible leader of the Labour party should be able to reel off all these achievements – and their impact – proudly and eloquently. 800,000 children lifted out of poverty. More people than ever surviving cancer. Children from working class backgrounds getting into higher education. Whoever runs our party should be able to stand proud and speak clearly about all of these – as well as understand how, when and why we need to change as we go through this 5 year period in Opposition and to the next general election.
They also should be able to say just how many ways we transformed women’s lives in particularly – the gender pay gap closing, the investment in childcare which gave men as well as women options to balance work and family better, the legislative and other actions to increase protection from rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and female genital mutilation, the changes in laws on prostitution and the sexual ‘entertainment’ industry.
They should also be able to develop their leadership team and their consultation and involvement with the wider PLP strongly and clearly to lead us into the EU referendum.
Tne leader needs to be able to reach out, listen to and communicate brilliantly and inspiringly with Labour supporters and those who have been in the past but didn’t vote for us this year, with people who don’t think of themselves as tribal politically but do share our values.
They should understand that climate change is a clear and present danger and know how to lead us through the period when we will unfortunately be represented by a Tory government at the UN Climate Change summit later this year – know how important it is and understand how to support our climate change and environment team.
For all these reasons, I nominated Yvette Cooper without any hesitation and am a committed member of Team Yvette. All the candidates have good qualities to contribute, but there was no contest, once I applied the criteria I have described above.
I do not think that it is dependent on the presence of any single candidate to make this contest a debate, a meaningful and real debate about who we are and where we are going. There is a punishing schedule of hustings, many of them public, many televised. They will all be interviewed many times over. We can ask them searching questions – at the Parliamentary Labour Party hustings, I asked them all what they thought was the point of the relationship between the trade union movement and the Labour Party. You can ask them your questions or read how they respond in other events. I urge you to do so .
I know Yvette’s going to make a fantastic leader. I believe she can make a wonderful Prime Minister, a Labour Prime Minister and our first woman leader.
I can’t be at the hustings in Swindon today but following things on twitter I can see just how brilliantly Yvette is answering the questions – clear, direct but also eloquent, inspiring and uplifting. I want a leader who can go for a 100% strategy at the next general election, who aims to bring the whole country into seeing that we are all better off when things are fairer, when no-one is living in poverty, when young people everywhere have good opportunities to fulfil their potential and contribute to the growth and development of our country. Yvette’s petition this morning calling on Iain Duncan-Smith to focus on ending child poverty by doing everything possible to end poverty not by scrapping the definition shows how well she can stand up for what’s right.
Follow Yvette on @YvetteForLabour, or go to her website to sign the petition or to help the campaign.