Today, Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected Leader of the Labour Party and I warmly congratulate him. Many will know that I campaigned for Owen Smith as I thought he was best placed to take the Labour Party forward. Last year, Jeremy was the reluctant “left wing” candidate for leader and it showed. This time round it is clear that Jeremy wants to lead the Labour Party and through his renewed mandate he has earned the right to lead us.
Whilst I am respectful of the result and will work with Jeremy to take on the Tories, the criticism I had does not disappear. If we are to be a serious party of opposition then Jeremy Corbyn must do more to bring the party together as well as winning over the support of the country. Jeremy must use his Leadership now to appeal to voters that Labour has lost since 2010 plus the 2 million Tory voters we need to achieve a majority. As Leader, it is Jeremy’s job to reach out beyond those who naturally support him and build a team that is effective and well drilled. Jeremy has made some positive changes in his office over the last few months and taken on some good people who I know and trust so I am hopeful for the future.
Jeremy Corbyn’s win is a renewed mandate; but it does not mean that he should rest on his laurels. There are many people who will have voted for Owen Smith and it is Jeremy’s responsibility now to make sure that they are not alienated in their own party. Voices from all sides of the party must be heard, and it is through these collective voices that we will be better able to bring the country round to our programme for Government.
But that also means uniting behind the Leader the members have chosen because divided parties are punished at the ballot box. I have done this after every Leadership Election and I shall do it after this one, Jeremy will have my support. Indeed, it was the reason that I agreed to join Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet in January. What needs to happen now is for all sides of the Labour Party to come together. There is nothing to be gained from internecine warfare and talks of a split is for the birds. It is the sign of a healthy democratic party that we are able to have disagreements over the Leadership and to unite as one afterwards.
Jeremy has today spoken about unity and for this to be achieved, talks of deselections of hard working MPs must end. This divisive language does nothing for unity and sows seeds of division. Labour has shown how effective we can be when we are united. On grammar schools, we showed that as a united front we were able to effectively take on the Tories and put Theresa May on the back foot. We were united as a party and it showed. Theresa May was unable to put forward a coherent case and we were able to take advantage of that.
Grammar schools will be the tip of the iceberg, workers’ rights will be next. This is why, as well as uniting at parliamentary level, we should also seek to reinvigorate our link with the trades unions. It is our colleagues in the trades unions who are bearing the brunt of this vicious right wing Tory Government, it is for them that we must unite and fight for workers’ rights.
I will make it my mission to work with Jeremy Corbyn and the Leadership in order to make sure that the people of East Hull have a Labour Party that speaks for them. We are entering turbulent times and it is of the upmost importance that the Labour Party is a stable opposition and a government in waiting. This cannot be achieved if we are at each other’s throats, for if this is the case then we are leaving the Tories with an open goal.
It is Clause IV which says that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone. This should guide us in our approach today and spur us on to tackling the Tories and taking on Theresa May. I call on members of this Party that I love, to turn their fire on the Tories so that we can effectively hold this right wing government to account.