As Deputy Leader, I will listen to voters and rebuild trust in the Labour Party
Working as a frontline A&E doctor, the most important skill I’ve developed is the ability to listen, now is the time to listen to our voters and activists and understand how they want us to rebuild, writes Rosena Allin-Khan MP.
Working as a frontline A&E doctor, the most important skill I’ve developed is the ability to listen. I don’t mean just listening in a polite way, nodding along as someone makes small-talk, I mean really actively listening. When a patient comes to me for help, they will often describe their symptoms with lots of different pieces of information – I also have to thoroughly examine all patients to ensure nothing is missed.
My role as a doctor is to focus and recognise the most important details, so I can correctly identify what is wrong with each patient in order to start treatment.
This is what is needed in the Labour Party.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Labour Party. A Labour government helped give a young woman from Tooting the chance to study medicine at Cambridge, despite failing her A-Levels because of a difficult homelife, and despite having been told she’d never amount to anything. It provided me with the opportunity to train as an A&E doctor and has given me and my family incredible opportunities. I want everyone to experience the same life-chances I did, particularly those like me who don’t come from privileged backgrounds.
It breaks my heart to see those kinds of life-chances being stripped away from current and future generations thanks to a decade of heartless Tory misrule.
We cannot hide away from the fact that the reason we’ve suffered under the Tories for so long is because the Labour Party has failed to win back power from them. We’ve lost four successive general elections. The 2019 election was our worst result in living memory - swathes of seats that had previously been red, turned blue. We must not shy away from these uncomfortable truths.
We need to really start listening, with humility, to those life-long Labour voters who’ve left us over the recent years. We need to listen to their concerns, and make sure they know their voices are being heard by those at the top of the Labour Party. We can’t put words into people’s mouths.
On my visits to seats where we’ve lost support, one theme stands out – the Labour voters who’ve left us have not abandoned the party completely. They know full-well that Boris Johnson is a liar, interested primarily in himself and no-one else. They don’t trust him as far as they could throw him, but they have been willing to lend the Conservatives their vote because they trusted the Labour Party even less.
There are many reasons for the distinct lack of trust: our disastrous equivocation over Brexit, our abject failure to deal properly with antisemitism within the party, our lack of focus in our manifesto compared to a clear Tory slogan – but the time is now to listen to our voters and activists and understand how they want us to rebuild. That's why I have already contacted our Labour councillors, asking them to feed back to me their views of this election campaign - we must understand how the party is feeling, and operating, in all regions.
We can win back support across the country, but we need to make sure we are listening to what people are saying, not just paying them lip-service. We cannot pretend that if we just keep on trying the same things that haven’t worked, that we will be cured. We must get the diagnosis right first.
As a doctor, I have to listen to the symptoms and investigate the root causes - that is what we must do now as a party, and that’s what I will do if I’m elected the next Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
Rosena Allin-Khan is a Labour Member of Parliament for Tooting.