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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Theresa May condemns Big Ben’s silence – but stays silent on Donald Trump’s Nazi defence


You know what it’s like when you get back from your summer holiday. You have the inbox from hell, your laundry schedule is a nightmare, you’ve put on a few pounds, and you receive the harrowing news that a loud bell will chime slightly less often.

Well, Theresa May is currently experiencing this bummer of a homecoming. Imagine it: Philip’s taking out the bins, she’s putting the third load on (carefully separating shirt dresses from leathers), she switches on Radio 4 and is suddenly struck by the cruel realisation that Big Ben’s bongs will fall silent for a few years.

It takes a while for the full extent of the atrocity to sink in. A big old clock will have to be fixed. For a bit. Its bell will not chime. But sometimes it will.

God, is there no end to this pain.

“It can’t be right,” she thinks.

Meanwhile, the President of the United States Donald Trump is busy excusing a literal Nazi rally which is so violent someone was killed. Instead of condemning the fascists, Trump insisted there was violence on both sides – causing resignations and disgust in his own administration and outrage across the world.

At first, May’s spokesperson commented that “what the President says is a matter for him” and condemned the far right, and then the PM continued in the same vein – denouncing the fascists but not directing any criticism at the President himself:

“I see no equivalence between those who profound fascists views and those who oppose them.

“I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them.”

Unlike May, other politicians here – including senior Tories – immediately explicitly criticised Trump. The Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said Trump had “turned his face to the world to defend Nazis, fascists and racists. For shame”, while justice minister Sam Gyimah said the President has lost “moral authority”.

So our Right Honourable leader, the head of Her Majesty’s Government, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, made another statement:

“Of course we want to ensure people’s safety at work but it can’t be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years.

“And I hope that the speaker, as the chairman of the House of Commons commission, will look into this urgently so that we can ensure that we can continue to hear Big Ben through those four years.”

Nailed it. The years ahead hang in the balance, and it was her duty to speak up.

I'm a mole, innit.