Full text of Keir Starmer MP and Sarah Hayward’s letter to Labour members
Our country is at a crossroads, and so is the Labour Party.
The Referendum vote to leave the EU presents a huge challenge for all of us and for our communities. The task ahead for the UK and for the Labour Party changed profoundly on 23 June.
Unless we are able to defend the prosperity we enjoy from trading with the EU, to rely on EU cross-border anti-terrorism and criminal justice measures, to protect workers’ rights and to promote environmental rights together with our EU colleagues, the consequences could be catastrophic for generations to come.
The task ahead is nothing short of redefining the UK’s place in the world. And, for the Labour Party that means forging our democratic, socialist values with a clear and hard-headed strategy to get the best for our communities from the international negotiations that will now follow. The time for ambiguity about co-operation and solidarity with our EU colleagues is well and truly over.
It’s essential that whatever happens next we don’t cede the political debate and the political answers to the Tories.
And we are in danger of doing so.
We have seen locally that there is little disagreement on our domestic agenda. Here, Labour has delivered the real living wage, built council housing, tackled inequality and asked those who can afford it to contribute more to deliver Labour values.
As we have shown locally – to put our shared principles into practice, we must be in power.
When Labour is in power we do radical, life changing things. We established the NHS and the welfare state. We passed the Equal Pay Act, the Race Relations Act, the Disability Discrimination Act, we repealed section 28 and supported civil partnership and gay marriage and, in the end, the Equalities Act. We delivered peace in Northern Ireland.
We should be proud as a party of these achievements.
But running through all of this is a core truth: unless Labour wins power, it cannot play its part in the rebuilding of the UK in the wake of the EU Referendum vote or win more battles on equality, on poverty, on social justice. We need to win. Camden needs it, Holborn & St Pancras needs it and the country needs it.
That puts this leadership election in its proper context. We have to elect a leader with a very clear determination to fight for the UK in Europe – both domestically and abroad – and a leader capable of forming an effective opposition and winning a general election.
Having worked with Jeremy these past 10 months and observed his approach, we simply do not believe that he has these qualities. There is no doubt that he has broken open a much needed debate. But that, alone, is not enough.
Owen Smith offers a radical vision coupled with an ability to deliver. He is far better placed to take on Teresa May’s Tories and to deliver the alternative the country so desperately needs.
Our principles are important to us. They are what drive us all forward in our passion for Labour politics.
But our principles tell us we must push for power; the alternative is never ending Tory rule.
For this reason we’re asking you to nominate Owen Smith in Thursday’s nomination meeting at St Pancras New Church, Euston Rd, NW1 2BA (doors open at 6:50pm, arrive by 7:30pm) and to vote for him when ballots drop later this month.
All the very best,
Cllr. Sarah Hayward
Leader of Camden Council
Keir Starmer MP
Member of Parliament for Holborn & St. Pancras