I want to explain my decision regarding the Labour leadership election. I am often asked why I am supporting Yvette Cooper so below I set out my reasons. I want to be absolutely clear however that of course it is a one-member-one-vote ballot, so eligible voters should consider all the candidates carefully before making their decision as to who to support.
The Labour leadership is a tough job, which needs experience and new ideas, the readiness to recognise that there aren’t always easy answers, but the strength to change ourselves so we can deliver the change the country needs.
Our next leader has to be someone who can take on the Tories and be an alternative Prime Minister from the very start – and that's why I'm backing Yvette Cooper.
We face one of the most brutal political Tory governments we’ve seen for years. None of us should underestimate this Tory Party and how they will be ruthless in trying to win again in 2020. Over the last five years, Yvette has shadowed both William Hague and Theresa May, effectively standing up to both of them.
In fact, Yvette often had them on the run. I’m confident she will be effective in pulling apart David Cameron and then George Osborne, Boris Johnson or Theresa May. Her record in government speaks for itself - as a Minister, she was responsible for tackling youth employment with the Future Jobs Fund, and helping to roll out Sure Start. The Tories will also find no advantage in attacking her for policy positions as shadow Home Secretary. Quite simply, she’s the toughest opponent for the Tories - and the one most feared by Tory campaigners and activists, as a recent poll made clear.
Yvette is setting the policy debate - a credible candidate for Prime Minister
We know where we stand with Yvette. She recognises that our message in the last election was too narrow and we need broader appeal to win in 2020, but that doesn’t mean trying to hug the Tories. Already Yvette is the candidate in this campaign who is setting out an appealing Labour policy agenda – she has outlined proposals to increase childcare, to build more homes, invest in the hi-tech jobs of the future and tackle shameful levels of child poverty.
Yvette will nail Tory myths on the economy
Crucially, Yvette recognises Labour failed to nail the myths over supposed Labour overspending in the last five years. So instead of just capitulating to George Osborne, she is the only frontbench candidate credibly arguing Labour’s spending in government didn’t cause the financial crash - and that historically Labour has run a surplus four times as often as the Tories have.
Given the economy is a central issue for every election, I think Yvette is the candidate equipped to devise a convincing economic policy for the future.
Yvette understands the voters we lost
Yvette was the first candidate to visit Scotland and face up to the challenge Scottish Labour faces. But she is also aware that UKIP hurt Labour in many ‘safe’ seats and was one of the first to recognise the threat of UKIP five years ago - before it was fashionable in Labour circles to warn of UKIP.
And Yvette knows that although we performed well in our cities, voters in towns and suburbs turned away from us. For Labour to win in 2020, we need to win here in the East Midlands, in seats where the Tories increased their majority like Sherwood. Yvette is the best placed to reach out and win voters over.
I also think it’s time for a woman. We are the party of equality, yet we’ve never had an elected female leader. I think it’s time to change that. The Tories are already trying to turn the clock back on equality and it's clear David Cameron has a woman problem. It's time to give him an even bigger one, smash that final glass ceiling and elect our first woman leader and future Prime Minister.
Finally - and perhaps most importantly - I passionately believe that we need a leader that can unite our party, then win in 2020. We cannot afford to vote for the candidate that makes us feel good - we need to back the person that can deliver the Labour Government that our country so desperately needs. I firmly believe that Yvette is that person.
If you are interested in supporting Yvette or getting involved with her campaign, you can find out more on the website, www.yvetteforlabour.co.uk.
If you have any questions about my decision please let me know using email@example.com.