The new leader needs to be a team player as well

We must learn the lessons of our defeat.

If we want to get back into a position where we can challenge the new Tory-led government, we need to be prepared to rethink our policies and learn the lessons of our defeat, by listening to the sometimes sobering messages we received from the electorate.

We need a leader able to project his or her personality and present our policies in today's media environment. All this is true -- but we also need a leader capable of building a team, inspiring loyalty from colleagues, and one genuinely open to ideas.

When I was first elected to parliament 18 years ago, one of the many things that struck me and that I still feel now is how the Labour Party, the party of collective action, can, at MP level and above, behave in such an individualistic way. It's hard to find good teamwork in practice and I have never thought that we, as a party, were any better at working as a team than the Tories, despite our core values.

Yet, despite the increasingly presidential style of political leadership in our country, teamwork is essential.

We all know this and yet we have not practised it well in government. Yes, there has been discipline and there has been restraint, and many have bent their own views for the collective good, but collective, effective teamwork has not been the order of the day.

Time pressures are a good excuse, the complexity and size of government a good excuse, but they are still excuses. How can you reach good decisions if you don't genuinely share them with colleagues? How do you get the best unless the whole team feels involved and has some ownership? And when times are hard, how do you get the depth of loyalty you need, if you haven't inspired it by your own actions over time?

So, as well as the presentational skills that we know we will need, and in addition to delving into the detail of the policy beliefs of the different candidates, we must look for a person capable of building and leading a team, able to inspire loyalty from close colleagues, and who gets the best from people by including them in discussion before articulating the response to any situation. Look for those qualities when you vote.

Bob Ainsworth is MP for Coventry North-East (Labour)

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Theresa May could live to regret not putting Article 50 to a vote sooner

Today's Morning Call.

Theresa May will reveal her plan to Parliament, Downing Street has confirmed. They will seek to amend Labour's motion on Article 50 adding a note of support for the principle of triggering Article 50 by March 2017, in a bid to flush out the diehard Remainers.

Has the PM retreated under heavy fire or pulled off a clever gambit to take the wind out of Labour's sails while keeping her Brexit deal close to her chest? 

Well, as ever, you pays your money and you makes your choice. "May forced to reveal Brexit plan to head off Tory revolt" is the Guardian's splash. "PM caves in on plans for Brexit" is the i's take. "May goes into battle for Brexit" is the Telegraph's, while Ukip's Pravda aka the Express goes for "MPs to vote on EU exit today".

Who's right? Well, it's a bit of both. That the government has only conceded to reveal "a plan" might mean further banalities on a par with the PM's one-liner yesterday that she was seeking a "red white and blue Brexit" ie a special British deal. And they've been aided by a rare error by Labour's new star signing Keir Starmer. Hindsight is 20:20, but if he'd demanded a full-blown white paper the government would be in a trickier spot now. 

But make no mistake: the PM didn't want to be here. It's worth noting that if she had submitted Article 50 to a parliamentary vote at the start of the parliamentary year, when Labour's frontbench was still cobbled together from scotch-tape and Paul Flynn and the only opposition MP seemed to be Nicky Morgan, she'd have passed it by now - or, better still for the Tory party, she'd be in possession of a perfect excuse to reestablish the Conservative majority in the House of Lords. May's caution made her PM while her more reckless colleagues detonated - but she may have cause to regret her caution over the coming months and years.

PANNICK! AT THE SUPREME COURT

David Pannick, Gina Miller's barrister, has told the Supreme Court that it would be "quite extraordinary" if the government's case were upheld, as it would mean ministers could use prerogative powers to reduce a swathe of rights without parliamentary appeal. The case hinges on the question of whether or not triggering Article 50 represents a loss of rights, something only the legislature can do.  Jane Croft has the details in the FT 

SOMETHING OF A GAMBLE

Ministers are contemplating doing a deal with Nicola Sturgeon that would allow her to hold a second independence referendum, but only after Brexit is completed, Lindsay McIntosh reports in the Times. The right to hold a referendum is a reserved power. 

A BURKISH MOVE

Angela Merkel told a cheering crowd at the CDU conference that, where possible, the full-face veil should be banned in Germany. Although the remarks are being widely reported in the British press as a "U-Turn", Merkel has previously said the face veil is incompatible with integration and has called from them to be banned "where possible". In a boost for the Chancellor, Merkel was re-elected as party chairman with 89.5 per cent of the vote. Stefan Wagstyl has the story in the FT.

SOMEWHERE A CLOCK IS TICKING

Michael Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, has reminded the United Kingdom that they will have just 15 to 18 months to negotiate the terms of exit when Article 50 is triggered, as the remaining time will be needed for the deal to secure legislative appeal.

LEN'S LAST STAND?

Len McCluskey has quit as general secretary of Unite in order to run for a third term, triggering a power struggle with big consequences for the Labour party. Though he starts as the frontrunner, he is more vulnerable now than he was in 2013. I write on his chances and possible opposition here.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Emad asks if One Night Stand provides the most compelling account of sex and relationships in video games yet.

MUST READS

Theresa May is becoming adept at avoiding defeats says George

Liv Constable-Maxwell on what the Supreme Court protesters want

Theresa May risks becoming an accidental Europe wrecker, says Rafael Behr

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Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.