Mary Creagh has entered the Labour leadership race with an article for Mail Online, saying she wants to “earn back the trust that Middle England has lost in the Labour Party”. Channeling the spirit of Tony Blair’s Mondeo Man, Creagh recalls a doorstep conversation when she knew that the election was lost.
On election morning I received an email from a small business owner in Hove. ‘If your lot do win today, please don’t annihilate the private sector and economy.’
I was horrified, but I got a premonition of what was about to happen. It was his voice, the voice of middle England, that spoke on May 7 and delivered our thumping defeat.
Tony Blair described a similar conversation after 1992:
His dad voted Labour, he said. He used to vote Labour, too. But he’d bought his own house now. He’d set up his own business. He was doing very nicely. “So I’ve become a Tory,” he said. In that moment, he crystallised for me the basis of our failure . . . His instincts were to get on in life. And he thought our instincts were to stop him. But that was never our history or our purpose.”
Creagh says she’s the candidate who can win back those votes, and talks up her own achievements as a frontbencher:
The country needs strong Labour voices in Parliament to hold this government to account. I defeated the government’s crazy plan to sell off England’s forests, and got the government to cap the rail fare rises that were crippling commuters.
And I also spoke up for the parents from my children’s school playground and across the country, when we discovered the supermarkets had sold us horsemeat.
They instilled in us a drive to make the best of ourselves. Hard work. Fair play. A desire to get on and to give your children the chance for a better life.
I have the same hopes for my own children. That hope is denied to too many parents in Wakefield, anxious about the state of Britain and worried by insecure wages.
I want to live in a country which embraces the future and leads the world. Britain needs to be a high-skill, high-wage economy to win in the global race.
I spent ten years working with small businesses at an enterprise agency and Cranfield School of Management.
I know that the UK’s five million innovative small businesses, start-ups and self-employed tradesmen and women are the backbone of our economy.
We want people to come and invest here and create the jobs of the future. Ten years ago the gaming, digital and renewable industries were in their infancy.
The jobs our children will do have not yet been invented. Our education system must rise to that challenge.
She concludes with a call for the party to unite to defeat the Tories. Creagh, who is considered an outside bet for the leadership, has a challenge on her hands to get the 35 nominations by MPs needed, although I’m told there are “loads and loads of undecideds” among the parliamentary Labour party.