We must celebrate all that unites us as we choose a new leader

JVL Introduction

Jennie Formby pays homage to all those members of the Labour Party, newly joined or old, and calls for unity as we set about our task of ” reaching out to people in every community, in all regions and nations, and listening seriously to their concerns”.

She pays special tribute to Jeremy Corbyn who “faced merciless attacks and criticism from all sides, including from the most hostile media I’ve ever witnessed” and who maintained his dignity throughout, refusing to reply in kind or to attack his critics personally.

He leaves us a dramatically changed Party, and a new, socialist, political narrative.

This article was originally published by LabourList on Tue 7 Jan 2020. Read the original here.

We must celebrate all that unites us as we choose a new leader

The contests for Labour’s next leader and deputy leader begin today – the largest and most democratic leadership elections of any political party in Britain. The process begins with candidates seeking nominations from MPs and MEPs, with those receiving a minimum of 22 nominations going forward to seek supporting nominations from CLPs and affiliated organisations, and the result announced at a special conference on April 4th.

Since the general election was called, tens of thousands of people have joined the Labour Party, with more joining every day. 7,000 joined over the last weekend alone. This is fantastic news, and it brings our total membership to close to 560,000 – which means we’re well on our way to having the largest membership ever in our history.

New joiners are motivated by many different reasons, including a desire to take part in the election, and we will do all we can to encourage them to become fully engaged in every aspect of our great party – and at all levels.

Because let’s not beat around the bush: we’ve got a huge job to do of rebuilding trust and showing that our party can deliver real change. Our task means reaching out to people in every community, in all regions and nations, and listening seriously to their concerns.

It also means being inclusive and welcoming to all new members, as well as working hard to encourage everyone to unify behind our new leader, whoever that may be. I have supported every elected leader over four decades of my own membership and have always believed it is vital to present a united front if we are to convince voters to take us seriously.

That includes us doing more to ensure that all members understand and share our values of treating everyone with dignity and respect – as highlighted in the members’ pledge that people sign up to when joining Labour – and continuing to take action against anyone who engages in abuse of any kind.

But above all, I hope our members will see what lies ahead as a springboard; as an opportunity to recognise our differences but also to celebrate all that unites us. I believe we all joined Labour because we believe passionately in equality, justice and in a fairer society for everyone where we care for and support all those who are vulnerable or in need.

Our greatest strength should be our unity of purpose, but we have to be honest and recognise that unity has been sadly lacking in recent times. Whilst it is clear that that there were a number of reasons why we lost the last election, not least because of a country divided on Brexit, it is also completely understandable that voters may be singularly unimpressed by a party that appears to be at war with itself.

So let’s come together and give genuine support to whoever is elected as our next leader. With Labour being a broad, and hopefully tolerant, church, we will never elect a leader who has complete support from every member, but they will have a democratic mandate to lead and they deserve our support.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to Jeremy Corbyn. He has had the toughest tenure of any Labour leader in my lifetime. He faced merciless attacks and criticism from all sides, including from the most hostile media I’ve ever witnessed, and as research has shown, most of it unfair and without foundation. Despite this, he has maintained dignity and always stuck to his principles, refusing to engage in personal attacks, regardless of whatever has been thrown at him.

Under his leadership our party has been transformed into a mass membership organisation. And under his leadership, he has moved not just our party but the political discourse, to the left. Candidates for the leadership have acknowledged this and rejected moving back to what has been described as a ‘wishy-washy centrism’. We should all recognise and be grateful for what he has brought to our party, and the legacy he leaves of a changed party and a changed political narrative. I am proud to have worked with him.

Comments (9)

  • Julian Bates says:

    Beautiful Guy. True words also.
    I just wish as part of his powers, he could have fought back over so many things the media put over. I mean ridiculing the right-wing media, taking them on! Think he would have gained some massive support. For it is his very Sane and good policies that have not been able to be put into action!
    However, I do love and respect his evolved-nature, maybe too evolved for our perhaps quite media-stupid citizens…

  • Diane Nichol says:

    Jeremy I joined the Labour party because you woke me up to politics and both inspired me and gave me hope. I am very saddened that you have decided to step down but I understand why you have made this decision. Your work here is not done Jeremy and I hope at least one of your sons will follow in your great footsteps.

  • Jennifer O'Connell says:

    Brilliant article and great reference to Jeremy Corbyn, a man who lead us with morals, dignity and above all humility, he will be missed, but the movement he shaped will continue.

  • Stephen Lubell says:

    A very moving and accurate tribute to JC! Time will show what a decent human being and leader of the Labour Party he has been and how he was hounded by the media including the BBC and the Guardian I respect his fortitude and strength and wish him well in the future.

  • christina evans says:

    How wonderful to know the legacy Jeremy Corbyn has left us. He has made the labour party one of the biggest parties in Europe. So he is not a loser he is an inspiration and just the start of something that could make tthis country a wonderful place to live in. Yes we must all be united and get it out there as well that the press are nothing but comics. Every year from the beginning of November they say we are going to have artic weather with 10 foot of snow. I given up long ago in believing a single word of the press. Even I didnt vote for Jeremy Corbyn first time round as I heard he was radical. We need radical to repair this country. Thanks Jeremy Corbyn for giving prople hope and fire in their bellies.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Julian Bates: When you say “so many things” Jeremy could have “fought back over”, I assume you are mainly referring to the anti-semitism smears. And it wasn’t just the traditional right-wing media that colluded in the A/S smears, but the WHOLE of the corporate media AND the BBC, so given that that’s the case, just precisely how would Jeremy have ‘fought back’ – ie through what medium exactly? The very MSM that participated in the A/S smear campaign?

    And what have these ‘powers’ you refer to got to do with ‘fighting back’, as if to imply that he had some power over what the MSM could do – ie over what they could or couldn’t dissemble? You imply – if I understand you correctly – that he DID have some ‘power’ of some sort to influence the MSM but chose not to use it, but he didn’t of course and so he couldn’t, and I’m at a loss as to why you should say such a thing when it is totally and utterly divorced from reality.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Julian Bates: And I should have added that I take issue with your description of much of the electorate as ‘media-stupid citizens’. I can only assume you mean in respect of all the lies and falsehoods and smears the MSM and other media outlets have been churning out on an almost daily basis for most of the past four years or so in relation to Jeremy and the left. But how would they know that they are being lied to and deceived and duped? And especially when the falsehoods are being dissembled and repeated by the BBC as well!

    People to some degree may very well say that they don’t believe everything they read in the newspapers – ie in the newspaper(s) they read – but if they REALLY thought and believed they were being lied to and deceived and mislead on a regular basis, they would of course stop buying and reading said newspaper(s). The reality is that it is inconceivable to them that not only is the newspaper (they read) conspiring and colluding in a black op smear campaign, but also the various people who are quoted in any given article, whether it’s the likes of Margaret Hodge or Ian Austin etc OR a spokesperson for the JLM or the CAA etc. The people you refer to as ‘stupid’ are in fact victims, victims of the trust they have in the media to convey the truth to them.

  • Ruth Appleton says:

    The question time audience tonight had one member who stated that no socialist party will ever be allowed to govern in England. Its too much of a threat to the Establishment. There was dead silence and the chair Fiona Bruce passed over it.

  • Heather Nicholls says:

    Jeremy is a beautiful soul. He has brought our party back from the brink, financially and morally. He has shown true grit. Never once raised his voice, has always shown respect, even when the other leader shouted him down, in Westminster.
    He has triumphed over adversity.
    He has faced the greedy, insane right wing MSM, like the true statesman he is, they villified him, as did some of our own, sadly .
    People know not what they have allowed to slip away.
    Thank you Jeremy Corbyn for your tireless work, in trying to make this a better world for the many.
    A man for the people. Need not Greed

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