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Why I’m supporting David Miliband

At the General Committee meeting of Chesterfield Constituency Labour Party on Saturday 5th June, I announced that I would be supporting David Miliband for leader of the Labour Party , and indeed after the hustings event for the Parliamentary Labour Party that took place on Monday 7th June, I added my name to those that have nominated David.

If I am honest, I didn’t start out expecting to support David so let me tell you why I ultimately chose to.

My support for David is entirely positive. It is not a reflection on characteristics that the other candidates are lacking but more a recognition that he was the best candidate of those on offer to lead the Labour Party and to place in front of the country as a future Prime Minister.

Having spoken to all of the candidates, it was David that seemed to have the calm assurance that you expect in a Leader, his analysis on the reasons Labour lost is unquestionably the most thoughtful and his performance in the debate showed a man comfortable in his own skin, with the confidence to defend Labour’s record, coupled with the vision to identify the ways in which the leadership of the party has been too top down and autocratic in it’s consultation and dealings with both the party and the public.

David’s influence in assisting Diane Abbott to be on the ballot paper was typical of his desire to have a debate about the future direction of the party in an open way without trashing the record of the party in government.

The performance of the Coalition government so far show that they are clearly embarking on a huge programme of public sector cuts, apparently without any pretence about cutting waste, (Future Jobs Fund, University places, Working Neighbourhoods Fund). 

The cuts will directly affect the poorest in our communities and require a robust response that reflects the best of Labour, our values yes, but allied to our pragmatic ability to deliver change that really impacts on people’s lives. 

David is the candidate that will best hold the Tories to account. He is by far the most accomplished Commons debater, the most experienced in Government and the one that the Tories fear most. In David, the Tories realise that we have a candidate that can restore Labour’s appeal across the class divide and rebuild the broad coalition needed to form a government again.

This is a time of great opportunity but also great danger. The coalition will not fall apart by itself. After thirteen years out of power the Tories are desperate to return to their position as the natural party of government, and the Lib Dems are clearly willing to ditch many of their principles in order to sit at the top table. But a Liberal influence on a Tory government could deliver a gentler face to the Tory cuts agenda and if the Tories’ attempt to attribute every cut to the previous Labour government is met by an unconvincing response from the Labour leadership, or worse, if we concede our role as the voice of progressive aspiration and retreat to the language of envy and tribalism, the potential dangers to our position as the major force in progressive politics are huge.

Simultaneously, get our response to the cuts right, put pressure on the Lib Dems to define what they stand for, and articulate a positive message about our alternative plan for government and our role as THE voice of progressive opinion can be hugely strengthened.

And whilst the public may not be listening to Labour, they are certainly watching us. David is the man that opinion polls consistently show is most likely to deliver a win for Labour. He is the candidate who has stayed solid on what he believes in, and is engaging in this debate with an open mind but resolute in defending the strengths of our party that has delivered a better, fairer and safer Britain over the last thirteen years.

Far from being a narrow race, I think the differences between the candidates will become clear as the race develops. Ed Balls has a strong background as a fighter for working people, and his history in the Treasury and as DCSF Secretary of State show him to be a serious politician; whilst Ed Miliband’s speeches are passionate and moving, and his appeal for the trade union and youth vote will keep him in the race. Andy Burnham has a strong history running one of the key offices of state at Health and Diane Abbott will provide a valuable voice for the left of the party.

But notwithstanding the attributes that are apparent in all of our candidates, David is the one who can couple the ability to devolve power to the party and the wider trade union movement with an ability to form a winning coalition.

That’s why I will be supporting David, and I hope that you will too.

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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
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