By Liz Smith.
When I was young I didn’t cope well with disappointment. One night my dad sat on the bed and said, “Elizabeth try not to waste more than a day of your life on a disappointment”. Well I’m trying to live up to that advice and my dream of a fairer society where we value people above profit is alive and well. To make sure that dream translates into a future Labour government I’m going to share with you some of my reasons for backing Rebecca Long-Bailey in the Leadership election.
I learned about politics and human behaviour through observing my dad at work as an NUM official. Every Sunday morning he chaired a meeting of the miners in what we called ‘my dad’s hut’. I used to stand outside and earwig. Some of the debates were humdingers, peppered with raised voices and passionate pleas. This wooden building was a hub in the community and fulfilled a number of functions. At the end of the meeting the miners walked down to the second hub in the community, the Social Club where debate and argument were left behind because on Monday morning these comrades were responsible for their collective safety in a dangerous and hostile environment.
We in the Labour family need that camaraderie and unity more than ever before. All leadership candidates talk about unity but those words have little meaning if not backed up by action. Why do I believe RLB can unite the party? Well first of all I have to examine past actions, how else can we judge? The so called ‘chicken coup’ was both deeply damaging to the party and emphasised divisions always present in a broad church. Three of the current candidates making a pitch to be leader resigned on that Sunday in 2016.RLB a recently elected MP did not. When asked she then stepped up to a crucial cabinet position as Business Secretary vacated by those who refused to accept the democratic decision of the membership. She has never wavered and has therefore earned the legitimacy and trust to declare herself the unity candidate.
She has chosen to run on a joint ticket with Angela Rayner, a candidate from a more centrist wing of the party. The Deputy Leader will of course be elected by the members but it demonstrates a willingness to work closely with those who don’t align exactly with her policies.
Rebecca has spent the last four and a half years designing policies. The Green New Deal is in my opinion the jewel in the crown. Rebecca wants a ‘new era of prosperity, security and well being’. I believe the Labour Party needs to reconsider who it represents and broaden its base. The environmental crisis we face affects the whole population. This is the policy which can unite both MPs and the country in common endeavour and purpose. It unites us internationally as the poor will suffer disproportionately across the globe as we are now witnessing unprecedented events causing unimaginable suffering. This policy as designed by RLB will democratically re-structure the economy returning decision making to where it should be, in local communities. Rebecca understands the need for rewilding to draw down carbon from the atmosphere. I could go on.
Rebecca’s record on austerity speaks for itself. From entering parliament in 2015 she opposed the Tory Welfare Bill on both second and third readings. That takes guts. She knows that we must remain an anti-austerity party because we have 14,000,000 people in their country barely surviving.
Rebecca is committed to the decentralisation of power from Westminster and will return it to regional and local decision makers. Our country is unbalanced and we desperately need a government which will take the lead on investment outside of the South East. She knows that to attract private investment, the government of the day must take the lead and invest in all areas of infrastructure. Rebecca is determined to deliver on world class, modern and democratic public services.
I may be biased but I can only see one candidate with both the policies and qualities of leadership to transform this country and lead out of the mess we are in. She’s strong, loyal, she communicates well, she has a vision which is supported by the correct values and convictions. She is the unity candidate and I would never underestimate her strength of character. Apart from that it is high time the Labour Party was led by a woman.