We Labour Party members face an incredibly important decision in a few weeks’ time.
After our fourth devastating general election defeat in a row, we are at a crossroads.
We can carry on as we have for the last few years and keep losing, or, we can elect a new leader with the qualities and vision to unite the Party, build our recovery and give us a chance of winning again.
By the end of this Parliament the Conservatives will have been in office for nearly fifteen years. If they win again, Labour will have been out of Government for the longest period since we became a parliamentary force.
Winning matters. We cannot put our values into practice and build the fairer country we seek without winning elections. We cannot help the people I see every week in my surgeries – the victims of the current Government’s policies – without winning power. We can win elections locally – but my task and that of our Labour Council is made much harder by having a Tory Government in London working against us rather than a Labour one with us.
Leadership and the character of a leader also matters. Can he or she unite the Labour Party, and will they draw on all our talent?
Can they provide strong and effective opposition to Boris Johnson and the Tories in Parliament, the media and the country?
Can they build a radical policy programme that meets the huge challenges our country faces, but also appeals to the public?
Can they win back the trust of the voters we have lost and those who would like to vote Labour but haven’t felt able to in recent elections?
Do they have the character and experience to be a good Prime Minister and can the public picture them on the steps of Downing Street?
These are the questions I hope Labour members will be asking ourselves as we prepare to cast our votes in a few weeks’ time.
We are blessed with great people in the Labour Party and some of the best are running for the leadership. But, for me, there is one, clear, stand-out candidate: Keir Starmer.
Keir had a distinguished career as a human rights and campaigning lawyer and a reforming Director of Public Prosecutions before becoming an MP. He has done a brilliant job in very difficult circumstances as Shadow Brexit Secretary in holding the Government to account.
He regularly gets the better of the Tories in Parliament and is the candidate they fear most.
He’s a listener and a unifier, who would bring together and motivate all of Labour’s broad church.
His is the name raised when talking to ex or disillusioned Labour voters, or people who say they would like to vote Labour as the person who would bring them to do so.
Finally, and unusually for a politician, he combines the qualities needed to be Prime Minister, with being an extremely nice and decent human being.
For these reasons and more, I’m backing him.