He wants to lead us back into government—and has the skill to deliverby Kezia Dugdale / August 29, 2016 / Leave a comment
There is a photo of Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May shaking hands in Edinburgh that has, at the time of writing, been retweeted almost 31,000 times. The message to accompany the photo was that no matter your politics, the sight of two women in such positions of power is progress.
But there was also another important symbolic message in that photo—the Labour Party is far from power. A Tory Prime Minister and a nationalist First Minister, with Labour nowhere to be found. And being far from power means we can’t transform the lives of the people of Britain as we have done in the past. With the Tories in office in Westminster and the SNP recently returned to power in Holyrood, albeit having lost their majority, the people who desperately need a Labour government are losing out.
It’s not always fashionable to say so these days, but the last Labour government achieved great things. We made fundamental changes to our economy and society– LGBT rights, the minimum wage, lifting millions of families out of poverty, establishing the Scottish Parliament and making investment in international development an accepted fact of political life. We didn’t get everything right, but I hope everybody in our party can agree that a Labour government on its worst day is better than a Tory Government on its best.
That’s why for me the most important question in the UK Labour leadership contest is who we think can lead us back into government. Some things can be achieved from opposition, but only from power can we really give everybody a fair chance in life and invest in our public services. I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn can appeal to enough voters across the country to win a General Election. I believe Owen Smith can do that, which is why he has my support in this contest.
I recognise that many party members don’t like how we got here and are concerned about the way a leadership contest was triggered. I understand that, but we have a contest and we have to make a choice.