The Labour leadership contest is now in full swing. And it’s clear that this is not just about selecting the next Leader of the Opposition.
We must select a Leader who can change our Party so that we can win in 2020 and change Britain.
We need a Leader who can convince voters that competence and compassion can go hand in hand.
We need to select someone whose voice will carry into every nation and region of our country.
After watching his performance on the Newsnight leadership debate last night, I am clear that Andy Burnham is that leader.
Andy gave strong, clear answers on his vision for our nation’s future.
He showed he had the strength needed to meet the challenges facing Labour – such as how to rebuild trust on immigration and benefits. And on the deficit – he showed he was the only candidate who had a vision of how we grow a strong economy.
As a member of the Shadow Health Team, I have worked closely with Andy. I’ve seen first-hand his passion, intelligence and conviction which have made him such a brilliant Shadow Health Secretary.
He brings these qualities to the leadership contest, and having joined Andy on visits across the country, I know that he can speak passionately and convincingly to the aspirations of everyone.
Last night we heard Andy’s clear vision for the future of our Party. He knows that we have lost our emotional connection with millions of voters – those who turned to the SNP in Scotland, UKIP in our heartland seats and the Conservatives in Middle England.
It’s clear Andy has thought hard about what we need to do to win back trust, and is already reaching out of the ‘Westminster bubble’ to consult members and voters all over the country.
He knows that we won’t win in 2020 by imitating the Tories, but by being better than them. Not by turning our back on traditional Labour values, but by showing that we have the strength to make them a reality.
As we heard during the debate, Andy would lead a Labour Party that helps every person, every family and every business – whoever they are, wherever they come from – get on in life. That’s a country I want to see.