Yes she Kendall? Photo: Getty Images
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I'm backing Liz Kendall for one reason - because she can beat the Conservatives

So I’m backing Liz for leader because I think she is brave and because I think she is right. But most of all I am backing Liz because I think she can win.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: the Labour Party exists to win elections.

We’re not a protest group or a glorified charity campaign, we do not exist to ‘raise issues’ or ‘start debates’. We exist to win a public mandate to change the country for the better.

This is important because it puts what happened in the General Election into context. A defeat on this scale is not just a bump in the road, it’s a crisis posing fundamental questions about our aims and objectives. This crisis requires a radical response.

That’s why the overwhelming focus of this leadership election should be picking a leader who can win in 2020. Not one who can ‘unite the party’, paper over the cracks and get big cheers at party conference. We need somebody who can beat the Tories and lead us back into power.

I’m also clear that the only way to beat the Tories is to reach out from our base and start winning Tory voters over to Labour. This may sound obvious, but it seems to have become a strangely unfashionable view in some Labour circles. I’m forever reading about how if just a few more Greens had voted for us, or if turnout was a little higher then Ed Miliband would even now be measuring the Downing Street curtains.

This is dangerous nonsense. Over 11 million people voted Conservative in the election, and if we make no attempt to win back those voters then Labour will never form a majority government again.

To win these people back, Labour will have to change. We will have to leave the comfort blanket of opposition and wrestle with the difficult issues that serious parties of Government must confront. This means fighting on unfamiliar turf, whether it’s defence spending or public service reform.

Some in Labour will say that this means adopting a ‘Tory agenda’, but if we allow ourselves to believe that wanting to defend our country or to make public services more efficient are Tory ideas then we might as well give up and go home. A party that seeks to win popular support and govern for the whole country must speak on issues that concern the whole country, not just those that excite its core supporters.

To do all of this will require a leader with bravery and vision. Someone who can move on from the past and think creatively about the challenges facing modern Britain. Someone who can ignore siren voices from all sides and stick to what’s right and what resonates strongly with the British public.

In my opinion the only leadership contender displaying these qualities is Liz Kendall and that’s why I’m backing her in the leadership contest.

Whether it’s reforming our public services to give people more control or carving out an ambitious new role for Britain in the world, Liz is the candidate who has been making the running and mapping out a platform from which Labour could take on the Tories. Liz would also offer Labour a fresh start. Free from endlessly debating the successes and failures of the Blair and Brown years, we could finally move the debate on to show what a modern Labour Party will do to improve the lives of millions.

Crucially, I believe Liz has the desire and determination to win in 2020. She understands that winning is not an afterthought in some great intellectual project, winning should be the aim. For too long pragmatic steeliness has been missing in our politics and we need to get the bit between our teeth again. Our desire to win elections should never be seen as a betrayal of our principles, but the truest expression of them.

Over the next five years I will see hundreds of constituents who are suffering because of the bedroom tax. The Labour Party could have helped these people, but they will continue to suffer because we couldn’t win an election. That should be a huge wake up call to every Labour MP and party member.

So I’m backing Liz for leader because I think she is brave and because I think she is right. But most of all I am backing Liz because I think she can win.

Simon Danczuk is MP for Rochdale.

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The most terrifying thing about Donald Trump's speech? What he didn't say

No politician uses official speeches to put across their most controversial ideas. But Donald Trump's are not hard to find. 

As Donald Trump took the podium on a cold Washington day to deliver his inauguration speech, the world held its breath. Viewers hunched over televisions or internet streaming services watched Trump mouth “thank you” to the camera, no doubt wondering how he could possibly live up to his deranged late-night Twitter persona. In newsrooms across America, reporters unsure when they might next get access to a president who seems to delight in denying them the right to ask questions got ready to parse his words for any clue as to what was to come. Some, deciding they couldn’t bear to watch, studiously busied themselves with other things.

But when the moment came, Trump’s speech was uncharacteristically professional – at least compared to his previous performances. The fractured, repetitive grammar that marks many of his off-the-cuff statements was missing, and so, too, were most of his most controversial policy ideas.

Trump told the crowd that his presidency would “determine the course of America, and the world, for many, many years to come” before expressing his gratefulness to President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for their “gracious aid” during the transition. “They have been magnificent," Trump said, before leading applause of thanks from the crowd.

If this opening was innocent enough, however, it all changed in the next breath. The new president moved quickly to the “historic movement”, “the likes of which the world has never seen before”, that elected him President. Following the small-state rhetoric of his campaign, Trump promised to take power from the “establishment” and restore it to the American people. “This moment," he told them, “Is your moment. It belongs to you.”

A good deal of the speech was given over to re-iterating his nationalist positions while also making repeated references to the key issues – “Islamic terrorism” and families – that remain points of commonality within the fractured Republican GOP.

The loss of business to overseas producers was blamed for “destroying our jobs”. “Protection," Trump said, “Will lead to great strength." He promised to end what he called the “American carnage” caused by drugs and crime.

“From this day forward," Trump said, “It’s going to be only America first."

There was plenty in the speech, then, that should worry viewers, particularly if you read Trump’s promises to make America “unstoppable” so it can “win” again in light of his recent tweets about China

But it was the things Trump didn't mention that should worry us most. Trump, we know, doesn’t use official channels to communicate his most troubling ideas. From bizarre television interviews to his upsetting and offensive rallies and, of course, the infamous tweets, the new President is inclined to fling his thoughts into the world as and when he sees fit, not on the occasions when he’s required to address the nation (see, also, his anodyne acceptance speech).

It’s important to remember that Trump’s administration wins when it makes itself seem as innocent as possible. During the speech, I was reminded of my colleague Helen Lewis’ recent thoughts on the “gaslighter-in-chief”, reflecting on Trump’s lying claim that he never mocked a disabled reporter. “Now we can see," she wrote, “A false narrative being built in real time, tweet by tweet."

Saying things that are untrue isn’t the only way of lying – it is also possible to lie by omission.

There has been much discussion as to whether Trump will soften after he becomes president. All the things this speech did not mention were designed to keep us guessing about many of the President’s most controversial promises.

Trump did not mention his proposed ban on Muslims entering the US, nor the wall he insists he will erect between America and Mexico (which he maintains the latter will pay for). He maintained a polite coolness towards the former President and avoiding any discussion of alleged cuts to anti-domestic violence programs and abortion regulations. Why? Trump wanted to leave viewers unsure as to whether he actually intends to carry through on his election rhetoric.

To understand what Trump is capable of, therefore, it is best not to look to his speeches on a global stage, but to the promises he makes to his allies. So when the President’s personal website still insists he will build a wall, end catch-and-release, suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions” “where adequate screening cannot occur”; when, despite saying he understands only 3 per cent of Planned Parenthood services relate to abortion and that “millions” of women are helped by their cancer screening, he plans to defund Planned Parenthood; when the president says he will remove gun-free zones around schools “on his first day” - believe him.  

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland