Whilst I’m in Parliament during weekdays, most weekends will find me knocking on doors somewhere in my constituency.
If people know that you are prepared to listen to them – and their perceptions of events are often as important as the facts – most have no hesitation in telling you straight.
Recently, my constituents have been telling me that they are fed up to their back teeth with the squabbling throughout the Labour Party. They are angry that we didn’t anticipate the scale of migration and the challenges that would bring to local communities and services and, accordingly, they voiced their frustration in the referendum. And they are furious that Labour has simply failed to be an effective opposition party.
Well, I listened. They’re right. We need to address the migration challenges. To become an effective opposition, we need to be united and focused on the concerns of the people who elect us.
That’s why, last week, I proposed that we should return to the situation where all the Labour MPs elect the Shadow Cabinet – our representatives who lead and take responsibility for challenging the government and promoting Labour’s alternatives. To me, it appeared to be a key route to ensure that Labour’s best talents are in the front-line and required to work together for the benefit of my constituents.
My proposal won by more than 4:1. I hope we’ve turned the corner.