Labour leadership candidates: Paint me a vision for the future

20th June, 2015 10:32 am

“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept” is something I have heard as a bit of a mantra at work, in the NHS. If you see someone on a ward fail to provide care with dignity and compassion and you just walk past, then you have deemed that behaviour to be acceptable.

This is a powerful challenge to all of us. It suggests that it is our responsibility not just to consider our own behaviour, but also to consider how we react to the behaviour of others. Now that the leadership election is in full swing I have been thinking a lot about the kind of behaviour I want from the candidates, but more importantly, considering what my role is in ensuring this behaviour.

I love being an engaged citizen, shouldering my part of the burden to live in a safe, peaceful and democratic society. But I have sometimes struggled to reconcile this with the mean spirited, bullying and sometimes downright weird behaviour that I have seen on display in the Labour Party at all levels, and I have all too often just walked past (or walked away), just accepted it.

I want the leadership candidates to focus on painting me a clear vision for the future, founded on strong moral and intellectual principles. Specific policy ideas can wait for now. I don’t want to know how you will respond to 2015 problems, but I want to know enough to trust you with 2020’s challenges.

Labour leadership  candidates debate

Paint me a vision for the future, don’t try and frighten me with lazy, bipartisan name calling. It gives no robust critique of positions, nor does it shed any light on the things that do divide the candidates, it’s intellectually vacant. Moreover it is an unkind way to treat each other, behaviour which has a wider implication than just making the recipient feel a bit small or sad. This is the same yar-boo, jeering behaviour that we see at PMQs and which we know is turning people away from politics.

We are meant to be the party of solidarity; I believe that that means something, that we can offer more. We can offer debate with dignity. We are going to have to, to win an election in a public that are increasingly turned off by the bullying culture of modern politics. We are going to have to, to survive as a party and to continue to attract candidates of the highest calibre.

I strongly believe that there is so much more that unites us than divides us in the Labour Party. There are some big debates to be had, and there are strong views to be expressed and I want us to agree to do this with dignity, with solidarity and with a bit of respect. Solidarity should not be an abstract concept to us, of all parties.

“The standard we walk past is the standard we accept” it’s our choice as members to shape the tone of the debate, to demand that the PLP raise their game and keep it high.

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