Mary Creagh MP

Working hard for Wakefield

It's time for us to get back in the game

Should Labour split? Mary Creagh MP writes in The New Statesman

The short answer is that Labour should not split. In the 115 years of our history, the party has been one of the most powerful and resilient forces for change ever established, nationally and internationally. Our belief that we work collectively to tackle inequality in all its forms, through decent work, fair taxation and responsible business, has survived several recessions, two world wars and bitter splits in 1932 and 1981. We have played in the political Premier League for most of our existence. Why would we split and relegate ourselves to being a protest movement?

Our values and actions make us different. In government, we cut CO2 emissions, slashed fuel poverty and ensured that people live with dignity in warm homes, as I highlighted in the recent Energy Bill debate. Our failure to defend our record was one of the reasons we lost the election in 2015. Margaret Beckett’s report into our defeat echoes my message when I stood to be Labour leader: we were seen as too left-wing, anti-business, and out of touch with people’s aspirations.

Splitting the party would be to abandon our record, ignore the public and make it harder to put our values into practice again. Instead, we must renew.

As someone who has campaigned in every election since 1992, I believe we must set out what a Labour government can offer when there is less money to spend. We must confront the long-term decline in our old industrial heartlands. How do we ensure that our public services provide the best education, health and care in the world? How do we strengthen families and communities, welcome strangers and make the UK a great place to be born, to live, work and grow old?

We must be restless for change in a changing world. I am delighted that hundreds of Green and Lib Dem members have joined our party since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory. After a great result in the Oldham West by-election, I look forward to campaigning alongside members, old and new, to elect Labour mayors in Bristol and London in May. We also need to win control of councils such as Kirklees, Plymouth and Milton Keynes: places that we must win to form a Labour government in 2020.

Talk of splitting tells the voters we care more about our party than we do about the country. Labour’s historic purpose is to win power and change lives for the better. Chatter on the benches is all well and good but we need to get back in the game.

 

This article was first published by The New Statesman, 27th January 2016, http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/01/should-labour-split

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