The dream team? Photo:Getty Images
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Deputy leader? It's a Stella for me

Prezza for Stella may sound like I’m after a lager, but I think Creasy could refresh parts of the party other candidates cannot reach.

Whilst all eyes are on the leadership race, there’s a contest that’s just as important, if not more so.

The Labour deputy ;eadership was always seen as the consolation prize for the person who failed to get the top job.

I felt this was wrong. I always believed strongly that the politics of organisation were equally as important as the politics of ideas.

A Labour leader has the direct responsibility for leading the party and convincing people that the policies are right for them and the country.

But that requires good organisation and an electoral machine. And to do that you need to motivate volunteers, increase your membership and raise funds.

That’s why I stood to be deputy leader, to be that motivator and campaigner to get Labour back to power. I stood and lost against Roy Hattersley in 1987 and Margaret Beckett in 1992.

But it was third time lucky in 1994 when Tony and I were elected Leader and Deputy. 

I stood for both posts whilst Blair only went for leader. As we waited backstage for the result I turned to him and said: “Tony, I’ve got a problem?” He looked at me nervously. “What’s that John?”he replied.

“Well I’ve only written an acceptance speech if I become deputy. If I get leader, can I borrow yours?”

From that moment on, I think we became a great team. In those three years before the election we doubled our membership and strengthened our organisation. Our ideas and organisation helped win an unprecedented three elections for Labour. Tony could concentrate on winning the election, safe in the knowledge that I had his back by building up our campaigning organisation.

That’s why the next deputy leader must be a born campaigner and organiser. You can’t do that job properly if you take a shadow ministerial brief as well. The task to rebuild our party is so immense that it needs someone focused like a laser on turning it around. We need a full-time Deputy Leader, not a Deputy Prime Minister in waiting.

And the one person who I think really gets this is Stella Creasy.

I was very impressed by her campaign against legal loan sharks and her commitment to community campaigning all year round.

I also really like her idea for the party to match funds raised by CLPs if they pledge to hit a certain target with more freedom as to what the money can be spent on.

We desperately need fresh campaigning ideas and innovative ways to raise money. Stella seems to be fizzing with ideas on turning Labour back into a sustainable campaigning party.

I think she’s got a lot to offer and I’m impressed she’s prepared to do the job full-time to get Labour ready for the electoral battles ahead.

But under our frankly bizarre leader and deputy leadership rules, the bar is too high to get on the ballot. We need as wide a field as possible. And Stella deserves to put her case to Labour members and supporters.

If I was still an MP, I would willingly nominate her myself.

But as I’m not, I really hope Labour MPs will nominate Stella so party members can have that real choice and debate on how we can become a campaigning movement again and start the journey back to Government. I also believe a Burnham-Creasy leadership could make a great team to appeal across the country. 

Prezza for Stella may sound like I’m after a lager, but I think Creasy could refresh parts of the party other candidates cannot reach.

And I’ll raise my pint to a deputy leader that can do that!

 

 

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The problems with ending encryption to fight terrorism

Forcing tech firms to create a "backdoor" to access messages would be a gift to cyber-hackers.

The UK has endured its worst terrorist atrocity since 7 July 2005 and the threat level has been raised to "critical" for the first time in a decade. Though election campaigning has been suspended, the debate over potential new powers has already begun.

Today's Sun reports that the Conservatives will seek to force technology companies to hand over encrypted messages to the police and security services. The new Technical Capability Notices were proposed by Amber Rudd following the Westminster terrorist attack and a month-long consultation closed last week. A Tory minister told the Sun: "We will do this as soon as we can after the election, as long as we get back in. The level of threat clearly proves there is no more time to waste now. The social media companies have been laughing in our faces for too long."

Put that way, the plan sounds reasonable (orders would be approved by the home secretary and a senior judge). But there are irrefutable problems. Encryption means tech firms such as WhatsApp and Apple can't simply "hand over" suspect messages - they can't access them at all. The technology is designed precisely so that conversations are genuinely private (unless a suspect's device is obtained or hacked into). Were companies to create an encryption "backdoor", as the government proposes, they would also create new opportunities for criminals and cyberhackers (as in the case of the recent NHS attack).

Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security, told the New Statesman's Will Dunn earlier this year: "Nobody in this organisation or our parent organisation will ever ask for a 'back door' in a large-scale encryption system, because it's dumb."

But there is a more profound problem: once created, a technology cannot be uninvented. Should large tech firms end encryption, terrorists will merely turn to other, lesser-known platforms. The only means of barring UK citizens from using the service would be a Chinese-style "great firewall", cutting Britain off from the rest of the internet. In 2015, before entering the cabinet, Brexit Secretary David Davis warned of ending encryption: "Such a move would have had devastating consequences for all financial transactions and online commerce, not to mention the security of all personal data. Its consequences for the City do not bear thinking about."

Labour's manifesto pledged to "provide our security agencies with the resources and the powers they need to protect our country and keep us all safe." But added: "We will also ensure that such powers do not weaken our individual rights or civil liberties". The Liberal Democrats have vowed to "oppose Conservative attempts to undermine encryption."

But with a large Conservative majority inevitable, according to polls, ministers will be confident of winning parliamentary support for the plan. Only a rebellion led by Davis-esque liberals is likely to stop them.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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