The Labour Party has always been and continues to be a broad church.
Since 1900 socialists of different traditions have come together with social democrats and trade unionists with the sole purpose of ensuring we have a Labour Party which wins elections in order to get on with the business of creating the fairer, more equal Britain we all strive for. Winning elections is the raison d’être of all members of the Labour Party. So now is the time to concentrate on getting us back into Downing Street - and soon!
Winning the next election is our collective strategic priority and with our swollen ranks, we have a formidable army to deliver victory. But no one of us has a monopoly on wisdom so we must now use all of the talents within our Party to defeat Theresa May and the party she leads. This is not a vacuous call for unity, it's what must happen to deliver a Labour Government at the next General Election.
Wherever we stand in our party, or indeed the broader Labour movement, history will not remember us kindly if we do not rise to the challenge of finally picking ourselves up from the election defeat of 2015 and getting on with the task in hand. Almost 507,000 votes were cast in this year’s Labour leadership election - that’s a huge engagement and it shows our party politics is far from dead. If Owen’s 193,000 voters now come together to work with Jeremy’s 313,000 - that’s a powerful Labour force - both in and outside parliament - and precisely what we need to deliver a Labour government.
Members are our lifeblood. They are a sign of our party’s health and our political relevance. To say otherwise is to forget the lesson from Scotland where last year’s wipe out - 49 of 51 seats lost in one dark election night - was the end result of years of haemorrhaging members. Jeremy’s socialist vision and his commitment to rending trickle down economics with a programme of more fairly shared wealth has reignited passion and won the hearts and minds of a new generation of socialists. It’s also won him two leadership elections.
Tom Watson is wrong to say that the achievements of the Blair/Brown years are dissed by Jeremy’s supporters. Sure Start, lifting a million people out of poverty, introducing the minimum wage are all exemplary achievements. But sadly this was overshadowed by then disastrous decision to invade Iraq.
Jeremy received the loudest applause from conference floor on Wednesday when he said he was right to say sorry for our party’s involvement in the Iraq War. His apology can, do little to arrest the chaos that Iraq and many parts of the middle east now find themselves in, but it is a significant first step in rebuilding the trust between our Labour supporters, potential voters and the party that exists to best represent their interests.
Jeremy’s credibility is rebuilding the broken bonds of trust between people and politics which is why more people have joined Labour in the last twenty months than in the previous twenty years. We now have more of our fellow citizens in our party than all the others put together.
It was heartening too to hear Trades Unions being given a prominent place in Jeremy’s conference address. For too long the Labour machine and ministers have tried to obscure the party’s Trades Union roots. Jeremy gets and respects us, not just as members of the Labour family but as a vital component of our nation’s democratic vitality. His pledge to repeal the Tory’s vindictive anti-trades union legislation is welcome and is reunifying our movement. After a ten year absence the Fire Brigades Union has come back into our Labour family
The rest of the Labour Party now need to re-embrace and re-energise their relationships with our trades unions and encourage affiliation from those who remain outside our Labour family. And trades unions need to recruit into our ranks the tens of thousands of new Labour Party members. In a healthy, growing labour movement the door between our trades unions and our Labour Party should be revolving.
Trades unions must use our new political climate to reach out to those on zero-hours contracts, in new digi-workplaces, home-workers and all low paid workers. Smart technology means no worker should feel isolated, vulnerable or unprotected.
At TSSA we are excited about a new pilot recruitment scheme we’ve started which has borrowed techniques from Bernie Sanders US Presidential campaign which can transform even the most isolated into activists. And as a result of this and other initiatives, we expect to see our membership grow throughout 2017 and beyond.
During Jeremy's campaign, I have seen first hand the new energy and creative zeal which the tech-savvy new generation create through using new social networks. This grassroots activism that has underpinned Jeremy’s leadership victories. Their enthusiasm and passion has breed hope and this in turn, breeds victory. It is vital that we nurture it.
There is no doubting Labour’s has had a bruising time in the last year. But let's now put them down to growing pains. Let’s face it, losing so many Scottish seats and gaining an all-out Tory government devoted to neoliberal orthodoxy needed Labour to grow in a different direction. Corbyn’s 21st century socialist values have been the conduit by which people have re-enterd our movement. Our new army of members have given us the confidence to develop a strong policy platform which means Labour once again knows what it stands for.
Singing William Blake’s Jerusalem gave a rousing finish to this year’s conference. But as Ellen Wilkinson said, “It’s no good building Jerusalem in perorations,” when “the average voter wants to see the blueprint of the city.”
Well, we now have the blueprint: 500,000 new council houses to be built, a national investment bank that will invest £500 billion into a British new deal job through a vast infrastructure programmes , a tuition-free, segregation-free National Education Service beginning with Sure Start and accessible for life, a market-free National Health Service free at the point of delivery and our railway back in public ownership. Theseare the kind of policies that our country is crying out for!
We are all in the Labour Party to win elections. Our goal will always be to beat the wretched Tories. This is our mantra. We have the the blueprint to show to voters. We have the grassroots activists. But we no longer have time for the narcissism of small differences that gain us such bad press. We must all show courage and stand shoulder to shoulder, party member to union member, PLP to Momentum. The Murdoch and the Mail won’t make it easy. But ignore all naysayers! Now is the time for solidarity with all comrades and colleagues: a Labour government is ours to win.