The Labour Party Leadership…


I have been contacted by many people over the past few weeks about my nomination for the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Make no mistake, this has been a big decision and it is one I have thought very closely about.

Firstly, that decision has been difficult because the current contest has revealed problems in the present rules for nominating MPs. Requiring the backing of 35 MPs is really too high -and the result is that some candidates (for Leader and Deputy) are unlikely to make it in to the ballot paper. I think it is important that the Party looks at how those rules are amended for the future.

But for now they are as they are. In that context, my responsibility as a Labour MP was to nominate from the list of declared candidates, the person I think is best placed to lead our Party in the period ahead. On that basis, and after a lot of thought, I have nominated Yvette Cooper. In my judgement, Yvette is a candidate with not only the experience and ability to lead our Party and take on the Tory Government, she is also someone who can project a strong vision for the future of the UK.

I have made my nomination for Tom Watson as Labour’s Deputy Leader. This is the person I believe will not only be an effective public understudy for the Leader, but also who can offer a distinct and innovative approach to the role of Deputy in its own right.

No one Leader or Deputy can personify the many important shades of current opinion in the Party.  That is why it to is so important not to allow the debate about the future direction of the Party be subsumed into leadership choices. There are huge questions for Labour ahead. Our debate must go beyond a discussion of Leadership – both in scope and in time, so that everyone really has a say.

Of course Leaders’ opinions are, of important but as an MP I have never been comfortable with “command and control” leadership styles. They may have been effective in the past, but they are wholly inappropriate for a time of widespread disaffection with the political process – which goes beyond the mainstream parties. I am clear that Labour must change if we are to convince the electorate that politics really matters, and that Labour politics will really make a difference to their lives.

Labour needs to embrace a more inclusive style of political action to achieve this. And that is what I will be pressing for in the months ahead.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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