Jeremy Corbyn won Labour’s leadership election with a powerful mandate for change. The excitement generated by his campaign showed that members want a new kind of politics – more radical, more engaging, more open. Labour Together is the new unity project open to everyone in our party. It’s for supporters of any of the leadership candidates, for people who know that what unites us is bigger than what divides us, and who want us to come together to win so we can change our country for good.
Ideas are at the heart of Labour Together. The vision we offered the country at the general election wasn’t good enough. As we knocked on doors in constituencies across the country we found little enthusiasm for the Tories. The truth is, they didn’t win the election, we lost it. We lost to an out-of-touch unpopular party because we lacked credibility on the big issues. Many of the radical ideas from the Labour Party’s policy review, shaped by a wide network of supporters, activists and thinkers, never formed part of Labour’s campaign.
Big ideas like devolving power to our regions, cities, towns and communities; giving people a bigger say over the public services they use; giving workers a real voice in the workplace; connecting people with the digital revolution; recognising the importance of family, community, and national identity. We didn’t challenge a welfare system that demonises the poor and allowed ourselves to be portrayed as anti-business. We can’t make that mistake again.
The best way to solve the huge, collective challenges we face is by involving people. Labour councils, working with their communities, have shown us the way. Plymouth has set up dozens of community energy projects to provide jobs, skills and cheaper, greener power. Lambeth set up a community youth trust to give young people a voice over their own futures. Rochdale mutualised their entire housing stock to give tenants a real stake in ownership. People power is the future. At the grassroots Labour is already changing the country and opening politics up– now it’s time for the rest of the party to join in.
After two resounding election defeats, Labour’s first task is to show the country we’re still relevant. Labour Together will build on the work Jon Cruddas led through Labour’s policy review and take it further. Using the power of community organising and the experience of our most radical councils we will find new ways to give people the power they need to change their lives, their communities and our country. We understand that an inequality of power underpins inequalities of wealth and opportunity. Finding ways that give power back to people is at the heart of a radical renewal of politics, building a fairer society and securing social justice.
We lost in 2015 because we weren’t clear enough what we believed in or what we wanted our country to become. The path back to power lies in understanding why we lost, changing ourselves, then rebuilding our credibility with the British people one by one.
It’s time to turn the page on the top-down elitist politics of the past, turn away from division, remember the values that have always driven our party, and shape a Labour future for our country in touch with the people and in tune with our age.
This is our invitation to you to help Labour Together renew our party. Register your interest here.
Steve Reed is Labour MP for Croydon North and shadow minister for local government.