“We need a Deputy Leader who can listen, who can relate to members & who will implement a strategy that takes that hope and optimism & uses it to build a fighting party which can win voters across all types of communities.”Ruth Hayes
By Ruth Hayes, Unite EC member.
This is a critical time for the Labour movement. We face further Tory onslaughts on our rights at work, our public services and on the very concept of a welfare state. We also have the challenges of the climate emergency, automation and globalisation. The world of work is very different to how it was 50 years ago, and the way people live has also changed – many people work several jobs across different sectors, there has been a rise in single person households, and the community spaces which used to bring people together have been in decline
The party has grown to around 600,000 members – a huge number, with the potential to be a very significant force for change. Many people have been inspired to join because they want to be part of a campaigning, active party and they support the vision set out in the manifesto. However, some CLPs are struggling, and many local Labour Parties are not campaigning between elections, leading to a loss of support from their communities. The fact that the Labour vote has been declining year on year in some of our former heartlands needs to be addressed by implementing a sustainable strategy to win voters back to Labour.
It is vital that the party elects a Leader and a Deputy Leader who can not only retain the membership but support them to be an active presence in every community, and can help bring people together post-Brexit.A team of Rebecca Long-Bailey and Richard Burgon would be able to do that, and would build on what has been achieved so far to help us take power.
Less attention has been given to the role of the Deputy Leader, but it will be crucial and Richard Burgon has set out a serious and developed programme.
He is committed to visiting every CLP – the focus of the role should be on ensuring that we have effective and empowered local parties, campaigning and being a visible presence. He is also firmly in favour of increasing democracy within our party – without people having a real say, they will not remain as activists within the Labour Party. Richard’s proposal to have a Commission to establish how we best re-build support in the more than 50 leave voting seats that we lost is vital.
He is not standing as a lone individual, but as someone embedded in the movement – he has the backing of the Campaign Group of MPs, and of unions such as Unite, the Bakers’ Union and the FBU – unions who are solidly engaged in defending their members and seeking to take on injustice in the workplace. We know that the new leadership team will face the same attacks as the last one, and we need someone who will be accountable but who will also have support from the left and the wider Labour and Trade Union family.
He is principled and dedicated – he has been tireless in fighting austerity, and in supporting the anti-war movement. His politics are part of who he is, and he will not be intimidated by the press. Indeed, he has taken on The Sun newspaper in court and won. His determination to ensure that the party is able to be democratic and to engage with diverse groups within our membership led him (and Dawn Butler) to say that they would not agree to the Board of Deputies’ 10 demands. This was not an easy decision, but it was a principled one.
Richard has an ability to look at where we are now and to see how Labour can address the impact of more than a decade of austerity – in his role as Shadow Justice Secretary, he has devised a radical, community based programme which would transform access to justice. We need this ability to look at what the opportunities are and how they can practically be delivered in our leadership team.
Whilst individual policies within the last 2 manifestos have been popular with a majority of the public, there has been a feeling that our priorities and messaging could have been clearer and more consistent, and Richard’s plan to highlight the top 10 and give people the tools to communicate these at a local level is a key plank to putting in place a strategy to win.
Finally, Richard is an activist and sees the role as being about developing and supporting the membership base. Many of us have been excited and inspired by the changes in the Labour Party under Jeremy’s leadership, but we were devastated by the loss of the last election. We need a Deputy Leader who can listen, who can relate to members and who will implement a strategy that takes that hope and optimism and uses it to build a fighting party which can win voters across all types of communities. Richard is the person to do this.
- This is part of our #Richard4Deputy grassroots takeover this week.