Labour can win – but Keir Starmer can't do it alone

The former TUC president Margaret Prosser has launched a new organisation: Labour To Win.

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As individuals, as communities and as a country we are having to re-evaluate many aspects of our lives in these historic times. It is daunting. It requires bravery to face an uncertain, but radically different future. It requires honesty about past decisions and mistakes. And it requires us to recognise that merely hoping that things will get better is not enough – we need a clear and realistic plan and to be disciplined in carrying it out, step by careful step.

This approach, of course, should be being taken by the shambles of a government led by Boris Johnson. Sadly, it does not. But if we, as a Labour party, are to replace him and his tribe of incompetents in Westminster, then we must adopt this approach ourselves.

Last week’s report from Labour Together explored many of the reasons why we lost in 2019. We also lost in 2017. In 2015. And in 2010. I’m sick of losing. I want Labour to win the next election, I haven’t got the time to spend another decade in opposition.

I've been a trade union and party activist for more than 50 years, starting as a community organiser in Southwark in the 1970s, campaigning against Margaret Thatcher at the TGWU in the 1980s, serving as Labour party treasurer when we returned to power in the 1990s and supporting the party in government and opposition as a member of the House of Lords since 2004.

[See more: Keir Starmer has sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey. What happens now?]

And throughout this time, one basic fact has remained unchanged. To win a general election, we need to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons. And to do this, we need to convince voters across the country that Labour is the natural party of government, and vote for us when the time comes. It is as simple as that.

Voters need to believe that we have the practical policies that will improve their lives. They need to trust us when we say we can rebuild an economy to face the challenges of the future, not the battles of the past. They need a Labour party that offers not slogans but solutions to the issues that they, not political activists, are most concerned about. And in 2020, this starts with our demonstrating that we are a strong, disciplined and credible team in opposition.

I welcomed Keir Starmer’s election as Labour leader in April as the first step towards that victory. And the marked shift in the opinion polls, both for him as leader and the party he leads, shows that my trust in him is well placed. But these are very early days – we have to win a marathon against enormous odds.

This is why we’ve launched Labour to Win – a new umbrella group within the party, founded by Progress and Labour First, with the aim of supporting Keir and his team back on the path to power. We want to build a broad-based coalition of grassroots activists, groups and politicians committed to making Keir's leadership a success.

We are committed to working with everyone across the party and wider Labour movement campaigning for a different, better future for our country than the toxic populist nationalism offered by Johnson and his cronies.

This will require modernising and upgrading the party for the decade ahead – including putting an end to the sectarianism that has exhausted and repelled so many of us since 2015.

[See more: Why isn’t Keir Starmer calling for Robert Jenrick to resign?]

As we put our own house in order, Labour to Win will also create a forum for the new ideas which will persuade the public that Labour once more has a winning policy platform the country can get behind. God alone knows that we deserve a better future what we're being offered.

We want to work with you to build diverse networks of people to develop and deliver these policies; as activists, councillors, and parliamentarians in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Westminster. We are united in the shared social democratic and democratic socialist values of the Labour party. We will work together with the leadership in pursuit of a shared goal – Labour victory at future local, devolved and national elections and the renewed opportunity to serve our country.

I urge all of you who share these aspirations – all of you who want to put the rancour of the recent past behind us and campaign for a Labour party that can win again – to get involved with Labour to Win. Join us and help secure the future of the Labour Party and the country by delivering a government led by Keir Starmer.

It is an enormous challenge, but we are, at last, facing in the right direction and by working together we can make it happen.

Margaret Prosser is spokesperson for Labour to Win. She has been a member of the House of Lords since 2004.

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