Over the past 18 years I have had the privilege of serving the community, country and party I love.
I love the Labour Party every bit as much as those who hurl abuse and attach lazy, out-dated labels such as “Blairite” or “Tory-lite” to anyone who has a view, which doesn’t fit with their ideology. The Labour Party has given me opportunities and experiences that in my wildest dreams I would never have thought possible so I make no apology for making it clear that the future of the Labour Party and the country is on the leadership ballot you will receive this weekend. The country needs a Labour Party, which can hold the Tories to account for their attacks on working and vulnerable people. The Labour Party needs a leader who can build a new vision and offer which reassures and inspires people and that we are fit to be trusted to govern again. If we get our choice of leader wrong we are letting down the millions of people who need us to be an effective opposition and credible alternative to the Government as soon as possible.
If you agree with me it is vital you use your first three votes for Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham.
I will not be voting for Jeremy Corbyn because on too many issues he advocates solutions, which belong to the past and will not equip the country or the Labour Party with the vision and policies, which can rise to the challenges of the future. I fear his leadership would prevent us rebuilding the mainstream majority support of working and middle class voters, which is essential if we are ever to win an election. Some of his stated political views are a cause for serious concern. At the very least he has shown very poor judgment in expressing support for and failing to speak out against people who have engaged not in legitimate criticism of Israeli governments but in anti-Semitic rhetoric.
It saddens me to have to say to some on the left of British politics that anti-racism means zero tolerance of anti Semitism, no ifs, and no buts. I have said the same about Islamaphobia and other forms of racism to a minority of my constituents who make unacceptable statements.
I will be casting my first preference vote for Liz Kendall, my second preference for Yvette Cooper and third for Andy Burnham. Liz has been right to stress the central importance of Labour re-establishing economic credibility through both fiscal responsibility and supporting
businesses to create the jobs of the future across the country. She has set out a radical vision for devolving power to local councils and communities alongside changes to public services that will give citizens a much stronger voice.
Liz has shown real leadership by saying challenging things to the party and highlighting the need for us to attract voters who voted Tory in recent elections if we are to have any chance of forming a Government.
Yvette is my second preference because I believe she would be able to unite the party at this crucial time, oppose the Tories effectively in the House of Commons and in the media while developing a credible economic policy which would help us to reach out to those voters we need to win back if we are to have any chance of winning the next election. My support for Liz and decision to give my second preference vote to Yvette is strengthened by the fact I also believe the time has come for Labour to elect a talented woman as our permanent leader.
Andy Burnham is my third preference because he is a passionate and strong voice for Labour who has campaigned vigorously and effectively for the causes he believes in.
I respect the right of each and every member to make his or her own decision but I hope you will feel able to give serious consideration to the views I have expressed.