Jezza did it, and now it’s our turn

During the recent Labour Party leadership election campaign I was consistent in my support for Liz Kendall. I was also consistent in stating that whoever was successful they would get my full support. I think it is for all of us who want a Labour Government to get behind the leader, and I fully intend to do what I can to see that it is Jeremy Corbyn who resides at 10 Downing Street after the next General Election.

I still believe that Liz Kendall represented our best chance of success come 2020, and I think that we, the Labour party, has chosen to take the most difficult route to success. However, there is no getting away from the huge mandate that Mr Corbyn now enjoys within the party, and we have to translate this into votes; next May provides an interesting test (especially in my ward!)

There is cause for optimism; the huge growth in our membership (which I can attest has seen our numbers more than double in Southend-on-Sea alone) should auger well for the many campaigns ahead. I am looking forward to working with the newest recruits, who are bound to give fresh energy to our campaigning.

The leadership campaign was a mixed affair, in my opinion. It was too long, fought too soon after the May defeat. However, I have mixed views over the number of hustings, which must have been wearying for the four candidates (as well as for the five who contested the deputy leadership), and it must have entailed a lot of repetition. But, with the numbers attending these it clearly demonstrated an appetite amongst activists and interested persons for public debate.

Jeremy had a very good campaign. It demonstrated that social media is having a significant impact, and his brand of pure socialism has certainly gained traction. He was also successful, I believe, because of the tone of his campaign – his occasional apparent amateurism leant him an authenticity that his three opponents just could not match. You knew that he believed in what he was saying, which is a rare commodity in some political circles.

I think his stances on some topics will have to change, evolving into something a little more palatable to the wider electorate. A pragmatist myself, I see nothing wrong in accepting that to achieve success a little compromise is sometimes needed.

As for Liz – well, I have to accept comprehensive rejection. I hope she will have a part to play in future, and she should, when the time is right, re-visit her decision about not serving in a Corbyn-led shadow cabinet. She should be acknowledged for her role in creating the lively debate in the contest, and at least she stood for change. Hers was as radical an alternative as Corbyn’s, and it certainly does no-one any favours to have four identical flavours to select from. She also refused to buckle under pressure, and perhaps she may yet be our first substantive female leader.

Which leads me to the issue of gender. The Labour movement can be extraordinarily conservative at times, and to have no females in any of the really big positions is surely something that has to be addressed at some point.

Here are the recent polls, which show a small bounce for Labour. UKIP are still showing impressive numbers, and the Greens are falling away somewhat. It is earlier days yet, though, and only so much can be read into these numbers.

Lab Con LDem UKIP Grn
25 August 2015 ComRes 28 42 8 9 6
14 September 2015 ICM 32 38 8 13 3
20 September 2015 ComRes 30 42 7 13 3
20 September 2015 YouGov 31 39 6 16 3
20 September 2015 Opinium 32 37 6 14
24 September 2015 Ipsos MORI 34 39 9 7 4
30 September 2015 ComRes 30 39 9 12 4
02 October 2015 YouGov 31 37 7 17
average 31.0 39.1 7.5 12.6 3.8

We have had a good debate, and it looks like Jeremy Corbyn is keen to continue this. I for one look forward to taking part in the many discussions to come. I am sure some heat will be generated, just as I am sure that most will respect alternative outlooks, and the need to agree and work as a team. Divided we stand no chance. We have a long four and a half years in front of us, which will not only see radical changes to public services and welfare, but also see changes to our democracy that are designed to make it tougher for us, Labour, to succeed. If we are to kick the Tories out of national government, as well as ejecting them from local authorities, then we will have to roll our sleeves up and work – all of us, from all wings of our movement.