What I stand for
- I’m Secretary of Labour First – www.labourfirst.org - and have been for many years. As such I’m heavily involved in the internal politics of the Labour Party and I make no secret that I see our role as to counterbalance and eventually defeat Momentum. Labour First is a network which exists to ensure that the voices of moderate party members are heard while the party is kept safe from the organised Hard Left, and those who seek to divert us from the work of making life better for ordinary working people and their families.
Labour First was founded in 1988 and is the organised voice of Labour’s traditional social democratic wing. We believe in:
Putting Labour First - Keeping the Labour Party as a party of Government with mainstream and election winning policies.
The Trade Union Link - The unions are an integral part of our party.
Strong Local Government - More power for local councillors not unaccountable community groups and quangos. Councillors deserve a strong voice within our party.
Security for the UK - The UK playing a full role in the EU and NATO and maintaining our special relationship with the USA. We oppose unilateral nuclear disarmament.
- I’m a social democrat. I stand in the Labour tradition that is as proud of Attlee’s creation of NATO as the NHS, the tradition of Ernest Bevin, Herbert Morrison, Hugh Gaitskell, Denis Healey and Roy Hattersley. Greater equality and greater freedom aren’t in conflict, you can’t enjoy a more equal society unless you are free, and you can’t be truly free if you are in poverty. You can manage and regulate markets. You can have a mixed economy with a strong, redistributive state and a dynamic private sector. We must oppose tyranny and dictatorships and terrorism just as strongly when they come from the extreme left as the extreme right.
- I’m proud of what Labour achieved in Government and want to build on it, particularly in the area of tackling poverty and inequality, but to listen to why voters abandoned us and rebuild our economic credibility. In 2015 the party chose to veer sharply to the left, as we did after 1979. I think this was a disastrous strategic mistake. Whilst our vote increased in 2017 we still lost our third election in a row and are not competitive in many of the seats where General Elections are won and lost. We should be miles ahead in the polls against this feeble Tory government and its appalling austerity and cuts, we are not because we are not projecting ourselves as a responsible alternative government.
- A bold approach to winning the next General Election. I want a bold strategy where we aim to build a coalition broad enough to win a convincing parliamentary majority. To do that we will need radical but realistic policies. We will have to develop ideas that appeal to people who voted Labour in the past but have recently backed UKIP and the Tories, particularly older and more prosperous voters. I support: in-sourcing public sector contracts wherever possible, rail renationalisation, a big house building programme, a national Living Wage, banning zero hours contracts, more free childcare. I am passionate about tackling poverty and inequality. As a parent and cancer survivor I will fight to defend our NHS and schools from Tory cuts. Any credible party of government needs to be trusted with national defence and I am a strong supporter of renewing the Trident strategic nuclear deterrent and increasing the funding of our armed forces.
- Opposing Momentum’s factionalism. Party unity and Labour's electability need to come first. I will oppose moves by Momentum to change the party rulebook to their partisan advantage. I will defend hard-working incumbent MPs and councillors from sectarian deselection bids. I will fight to stop Momentum from acting as a bridgehead into Labour for entryists from rival far left parties.
- Rebuilding the Party. While there are geographical pockets where CLPs are thriving and there is excellent campaigning best practice, in too much of the country we have let our organisation atrophy. The massive influx of new members during 2015 has not been evenly spread across the country and intensive work needs to be done to train and enthuse the new members to become active campaigners and to sustain this all year round, not just in the excitement of General Election campaigns. I want to see a priority made ofregeneration of branches and CLPs nationwide and building their campaigning capacity. Members are our greatest asset but our membership is too white, southern and middle class compared to our voters, and this distorts the priorities of the Party. We need an even bigger membership that reflects the socio-economic and geographical diversity of the coalition of people who we need to vote Labour. We also need to continue to rebuild our base in local government as there is a direct link between winning councillors and building our local campaigning base.
- A truly nationwide Party. At election time we have to focus on marginal seats. But we have allowed our party machine to wither in many areas, both “unwinnable” rural and southern seats and some of our safest areas. Having been an activist in Kent and a parliamentary candidate in Essex and Hampshire, I don’t want any no-go areas for Labour, so I have pushed hard for us to field candidates in every seat in every possible election and to regenerate local parties nationwide.
- Focused on campaigning. I bring 30 years’ experience of grassroots campaigning to the table. As a long-standing volunteer CLP Agent I have first-hand knowledge of what works in local campaigning.
- Transparency. As a constituency rep on the NEC from 2010-2012 I reported back to CLPs (and to members via the internet) in writing after every meeting (within the obvious constraints about any confidential agenda items). Too much of what the NEC does can be shrouded in byzantine secrecy. Party members need to know what their representatives are doing in their name and what the justifications are for NEC decisions.
- Activist and accountable. I don’t think the NEC should just sit in London in meetings. In my previous term on the NEC I got round the country to report back to and listen to members and join them campaigning.
- Objectivity and even-handedness. When the NEC takes decisions that affect ordinary members there needs to be confidence that NEC members are taking decisions based on upholding the Rulebook and natural justice, not helping out our mates or political allies. My track record dealing with difficult disciplinary and selection issues as a council Chief Whip for seven years, as a regional board member and on the NEC Disputes Panel shows that I do the right thing when confronted with contentious issues, not do what is politically expedient.
- Putting members first. Wherever possible I want to put control in the hands of local members and CLPs and maximise local autonomy and democracy – particularly regarding selection of candidates. My track record where I took decisions on the NEC Organisation Committee and its panels demonstrates this.
- Independent-minded. I think for myself and judge decisions on their merits whatever the pressure – for instance backing Iain McNicol in the closely contested vote to pick a new General Secretary even though Ed Miliband personally asked me to back another candidate.
- Pro-European. I am a long-term member of the European Movement and the Labour Movement for Europe. I was Vice-President of ECOSY, the youth wing of the Party of European Socialists, from 1997 to 2001. I campaigned for Remain. I argued for a stronger Labour stance in favour of the Customs Union at my local CLP - we won. I don't want Brexit and if it has to happen I want the softest Brexit possible, to minimise the economic impact and give us the option of rejoining the EU if public opinion shifts
- Open about my politics. I’ve written publicly about my politics for many years, so I can’t and in any case would never want to hide my politics to court popularity. Everything I stand for is in the public domain and I am happy to be judged on it. I’m active in politics because I’m passionate about my beliefs.
- Committed to the Trade Union link. I’m opposed to rule changes such as primaries or abolishing trigger ballots that would sever the union link, which is fundamental to keeping us grounded in the practical concerns of ordinary working people.
- Anti-racism. Zero tolerance of and tough disciplinary action against antisemitism and any other racism. Bigots who stereotype or peddle conspiracy theories or cause deliberate distress to Jews or any other community have no place in the Labour Party.
- No to bullying. A culture has developed since 2015 of online abuse, bullying of people who dissent within the party, threats of deselection against MPs and councillors who think for themselves, use of absurd insults like “neo-liberal”, “imperialist” and “Red Tory” to describe fellow party members. This toxic culture of hate is uncomradely and has to end.
- Positivity, pluralism and unity. My starting point is one of lifelong loyalty to the Party. I’m no pushover but unlike some candidates elected in the past I’m not seeking to get on the NEC to undermine anyone or with a starting point of suspicion and blame. We all need to be united and work as a team. Unity has to start at the top, with Jeremy Corbyn recognising he is the leader of the whole party, not just people who voted for him, and respecting the contribution and views of the PLP and moderate members. It’s ridiculous that many of our most talented MPs are wasted on the backbenches when they should be part of the top team taking the fight to the Tories.