You should be receiving your ballot paper for the Labour Leadership election imminently. Several members have asked me my views on the leadership and who I am supporting so I thought I would set out my views in an email.
I am extremely keen, as I am sure you are, that we choose the right leader for the Labour Party who can be the next Prime Minister of our country. Because Labour can only help the people who need it the most when we are in power - we can achieve very little when we are shouting from the side-lines, watching from opposition as the Tories run riot.
You will have seen that I nominated Andy Burnham and am very proud to be supporting him. I have known Andy for over ten years - and have always been struck by his personal integrity, his bravery in taking on the big issues, and how our Labour values run through him.
I realised Andy had true leadership potential when he called for the inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster after years of the establishment closing ranks. And I knew he understood the big challenges our society faces when he set out his bold vision for a National Care Service, on a par with Labour’s greatest achievement, our NHS.
Andy's manifesto is visionary and comprehensive, with big policy ideas such as scrapping university tuition fees, progressive renationalisation of the railways, re-regulation of buses, the revitalisation of comprehensive and vocational education, more social housing, and a National Health and Care Service.
I think it is the foundation of a real Labour vision that we can build on over the next 5 years and put to the British people in 2020, seeking to form the next Labour government.
When we started out on the leadership race, many people, including Members of Parliament, believed we needed to have a wide debate in the Labour Party, to hear a broad range of views, and the four candidates for Leader have provided that.
The time for debate is now over and we need to make a serious choice for the serious job ahead to get us back into government and better serve everyone in our country. We are the Labour Party and we have a responsibility to change the world, not protest about it. Andy Burnham is that serious choice - and as the latest data shows, he is the person the public believe most likely to win for Labour in 2020.
I will be giving Yvette Cooper my second preference as I have been impressed with her campaign and her commitment to issues like protecting Sure Starts and early years support. She made a strong speech this week about our responsibility to win back power when she challenged the idea that ‘power doesn’t matter provided our principals are intact. I dare you to tell that to the woman in tears because she can’t afford her bedroom tax arrears.’
I do hope you will give Andy your first preference vote - but if not, that you will give him your second. If you would like a chat with me about why I am backing Andy and giving Yvette my second preference, please drop me an e mail with your telephone number and I will call you.
For Deputy Leader I am supporting Caroline Flint. She has been to Redcar on a number of occasions to help us campaign to win the seat back. Her life story means that she knows what it is like to need a Labour government, and her experience at all levels of the party - from local activist and local government to the Cabinet table. She is a hands-on constituency MP, a doorstep and community campaigner, a creative policy maker, a great performer in Parliament and someone who has always fought the corner for our party through the media.
Thank you for reading this.
Your Labour and Co-operative MP for Redcar