February 9, 2020

A decade ago, thanks to a Labour government’s record investment in public services which changed our country for the better and improved the lives of millions, Basildon was home to a three-time elected Labour MP. 

Today, thanks to Jeremy’s 10/10 leadership, Basildon is home to a four-time elected Conservative MP with a 20,000 majority to boot. 

The scale of these defeats cannot be overstated. Labour has to change rapidly and seismically in order to win. That process will be hard, and it will require the Party to leave its comfort zone on the side-lines, get engaged, and undertake some difficult policy reform from immigration to welfare reform.

We also must understand that the biggest issue in this country is not the ‘North/South’ divide. The truth is, the North simply caught up in 2019 with what the South learned in 2010, 2015 and 2017… that Labour wasn’t working for them.

Instead, Labour needs to recognise we have a ‘city versus town’ problem. It’s harsh, but voters in towns simply don’t believe Labour has credible answers that neatly marry individual ambition and aspiration with a compassionate view of society that can be delivered without trampling on the economic prosperity of the individual or the collective. Squaring that circle will be tough. But governing is tough, and we have to earn the right to do it. 

So, I’m looking for a new Leader and Deputy Leader who understand how hard it is to win. Who understand that in order to change we need to bring people with us, not isolate and alienate them. Who understand that politics in 2020 Britain is no place for purist ideological debate in a university dissertation, but a street fight, requiring adept, agile policy positions and consummate media performers. 

Above all, I want a Leader and Deputy Leader who have appeal across every single region and nation of our United Kingdom. The people of Basildon, and right across the UK, deserve and need a Labour Party that’s fit for purpose. 

That is why in this leadership election, I will be voting for Sir Keir Starmer to lead the Labour Party and for Ian Murray to be our party’s Deputy Leader. 

Keir understands the need to confront the difficult challenges we face. And Ian is a born winner who will rebuild Labour’s credibility, especially in Scotland where his record shows he knows how to wrest control from the Tartan Tories masquerading as nationalists. I believe the two of them, working as a team, will rid the party of the modern militant tendency, regain public trustworthiness, draw on the strengths of the Parliamentary Labour Party and together they will be an election winning force at local and national level.