Now is the time to unite

The result is in and it's clear. Jeremy Corbyn has been elected as Labour Party leader with a clear mandate. As clear as the mandate is, so is what must come next. 

GMB didn't back Jeremy. We held an all member ballot and our members chose to support Owen Smith. In what has been a divisive campaign at times, I'm proud of Owen. He's not ashamed to call himself a Socialist or to defend the trade union/Labour link. He has a big role to play in Labour's future. But now is the time to unite behind our democratically elected leader. 

The responsibility to unite our Party lies on all sides of the labour movement. We are a collective with a collective responsibility to each other and the people we represent. 

I've been a Party member for most of my adult life. I've been a constituency chair. I've knocked on doors just like every other activist. I’ve had my disagreements with Labour politicians in the past and chaired contentious meetings, but never have I seen vitriol and bile directed at each other as I have in the last few months. Social media is not a nice place to be right now. For that small – but regrettably vocal – minority who think homophobic, anti-Semitic and sexist abuse is who we are, I’m happy to personally direct you to the door. 

If we continue down this road, we won't just rip ourselves to shreds, we'll alienate the very people we need to vote for us and provide the Tories with ammo at the same time. 

That is not to say we will all agree all the time. We won't. I’m not sure a Party with a homogenous view on every issue would be healthy. How we address our differences is what matters, because we have more in common than divides us, as a friend once said. 

We are and always have been, a broad church. This Party is not the preserve of one faction or another. It is the preserve of working people. It is the vanguard of our class, a vehicle to achieve change through the political process. Without power we are protest movement - so let's get on with winning it. It can't be a choice between a mass movement of members or a mass movement of voters. We can have both. We must have both. 

That brings me to a final point. For the love of a higher power, we must stop continually talking about ourselves, to ourselves. I cannot overstate this enough: the public don't care. 

The electorate care about their lives, their jobs, their communities, their NHS and what Labour can do for them in power, at all levels. The more we talk about our differences, the more the press will cover them. I will put money on the fact I'll do a few interviews today and half the questions will be about internal wrangling rather than our vision for the country. 

Every day that the headlines are about procedural issues or what argument broke out at a PLP meeting is a day when we're speaking to the concerns of the political elite rather than the people we are supposed to represent. It might be good geek fodder but it won't win us a single vote. The responsibility to move on is on all of us – from the Party membership, to the PLP and the leadership too. We all have to make this work. 

Let's get it out of our system this weekend then get on with taking the fight to the Tories as a credible, vibrant, campaigning opposition. We will never be forgiven if we don't. 


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