We must get behind Keir Starmer and deliver for the millions of people who need a Labour government
We need make that moral case for socialism as Keir Starmer set out in his pitch for the Labour Leadership, writes Cat Smith MP. | PA Images
When Jeremy Corbyn became leader, too many in our party stepped back. In the end that only served to bolster our opponents. We cannot make the same mistakes again.
With Keir Starmer’s convincing win, it is clear the majority of Labour’s members, affiliates and supporters were impressed by his campaign. Clearing the finish line with over 50% of votes in the first round is a real mandate to take our party forward.
After backing Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 and 2016 Labour leadership elections, I find myself saying the same thing I did back then – let’s get behind our leader and work to deliver for the millions of people who need a Labour government.
When Jeremy Corbyn became leader, too many in our party stepped back. In the end that only served to bolster our opponents. We cannot make the same mistakes again. There simply isn’t time.
Now in opposition, again, we must pick ourselves up and start the long and difficult process of forming a renewed contract with voters.
The current crisis of coronavirus has opened the eyes of many to truths we already knew. That key workers don’t get paid the wage they deserve, that the so-called safety net of Universal Credit is riddled with holes and doesn’t always catch you when you need it, and that our NHS and wider social care system have been cut to the bone.
After all this is over, we cannot go back to business as usual. It is not acceptable for billions to have been stripped from our public services by corporate tax cuts and avoidance, only for the beneficiaries of those policies to expect a big state to come to their aid when the going gets tough. We need a new era of politics. We need make that moral case for socialism as Keir Starmer set out in his pitch for the Labour leadership.
Keir’s vision for a fairer society is one I share, which is why I gladly accepted his offer to continue serving in his shadow cabinet. Like me, I know he wants our country to come out of this crisis rebuilt so that it serves the people the Labour party was created to deliver for.
With public services out of private hands we can make sure those who work in them get a fair wage, rather than the priority being given to shareholders’ profits. We can protect our NHS, scrap the punitive social security sanctions regime and end the failings of Universal Credit, soon to be felt by millions more as they are forced to turn to it to see them through this crisis.
Looking at my party I know we are in a difficult position. We got battered at the general election, losing millions of voters, including in communities that have long supported Labour. Now in opposition, again, we must pick ourselves up and start the long and difficult process of forming a renewed contract with voters. As part of this we mustn’t shy away from continuing to study the reasons for our defeat, many of which went way beyond the question of the party leadership.
As the shadow minster for Voter Engagement and Young People I look forward to being able to work with the new shadow cabinet to make progress in rebuilding trust and setting out that vision for a fairer society. Because we cannot emerge out of this crisis with more of the same in our country, and we can’t move forward with business as usual from the Labour Party either.
Now is the time to be bold and I hope that everyone with progressive values can work with us to make sure that at the next election, whenever that comes, we can have won back trust from the votes we lost this time and to have built new relationships with millions more, delivering a Labour government that can build a stronger, fairer and happier Britain.
Cat Smith is the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood and shadow minister for young people and voter engagement.