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By Tobias Ellwood
By Ben Guerin
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Labour must ‘modernise or die’ says leadership hopeful Clive Lewis

2 min read

Labour leadership hopeful Clive Lewis has warned the party it must "modernise or die" in the wake of its devastating election defeat.

He said he would "completely transform and democratise the Labour party’s culture, organisation and programme, so it’s in tune with both our socialist values and the fast-changing context of the 21st century" if he won the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Lewis, who needs another 18 nominations from MPs and MEPs before Monday if he is to make it through to the next stage of the contest, said: "We have to accept that democracy is in crisis, that we face a climate catastrophe, and we face epoch-defining possibilities and challenges from the tech revolution.

"We can’t have more of the same. The Labour Party needs to modernise, or it will die."

In a keynote speech at Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, south London, Mr Lewis said he wanted to end the in-fighting which has dogged the party throughout Mr Corbyn's time as leader.

He said: “I’m fed up with the top-down style of politics, where real debate and discussion in our party is stifled because of sectarianism and tribalism.

“We can’t grow as a party, if we’re afraid of having difficult discussions.

“I’m standing because I see a party in crisis and democracy in crisis and unless we start addressing some fundamental issues, a few tweaks of policy here, or a slight change of leader there, aren’t going to bring the real change that this country urgently needs.”

The shadow Treasury minister said Labour need to “collaborate with other parties and social movements”, and “stop being a top-down party machine, and start devolving power in our party away from head office to the regions and the constituencies”.

And he said the party must back replacing First Past The Post with proportional representation at future elections and abolish the House of Lords in favour of an elected second chamber.

“How can the public have faith in politics when people like Zac Goldsmith can lose their seat in a democratic election one week, get put in the House of Lords the week after, and be back in cabinet,” he added.

“It’s a public scandal and just demonstrates the crisis in our democracy.”

Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips have all reached the required threshold of 22 MP and MEP nominations to allow them through to the next stage of the contest.

That leaves Mr Lewis and Emily Thornberry facing an uphill battle as they try to reach the target by Monday afternoon.

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