Our radical socialist tradition must remain at the heart of Labour

The future of our party must be built on a new, more inclusive and democratic culture of dignity and respect

Keir Starmer
Saturday 22 February 2020 16:55
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My socialism is rooted in a burning desire to stand up for the powerless against the powerful.

When I see inequality and injustice, I want to put it right. That has been the guiding principle throughout my life, whether it was when I marched against the Iraq War or stood alongside trade unions as a human rights lawyer.

I know that Labour members across the country have this same drive too – and it would guide me if I were to be elected leader of our party.

The Labour Party is the greatest force for good our country has ever known. Whether it is the post-war government creating our National Health Service, the passing of the Equal Pay Act or the introduction of the minimum wage, Labour has always been the driving force for positive change in our society.

That is why the general election result was devastating. It was devastating for our movement, our party and for the millions of people who so desperately needed change – and still do.

I have spoken to thousands of members from across the country during this leadership campaign. The message I have heard loud and clear is the need for us to rebuild, unite and to take on the Conservatives. United, we will restore public trust in our party as a force for positive change. United, we will win.

Labour has always been a place where different ways of thinking come together. Our trade unionist, reformist social democrat and radical socialist traditions are still at the heart of our movement. Over the decades Labour has also become a home for feminists, environmentalists, campaigners for a fairer society for disabled people, LGBT+ movements, anti-racist campaigners, internationalists and many more.

I am proud of our movement and how it has grown since 2015. I don’t want us to lose the energy and the passion we have found over recent years. Instead, the future of our party must be built on a new, more inclusive and more democratic culture of dignity and respect.

I want to lead a Labour Party that is trusted enough to bring about the fundamental change our country is crying out for.

We need to win because that is the only way we will tackle the gross inequality and injustice in our society. We need a radical Labour government that will confront the climate crisis with a Green New Deal, where rapid decarbonisation can go hand in hand with social justice.

We need to offer people hope that a new economic model is possible that will reduce inequality, strengthen trade unions and empower workers. We need a foreign policy founded in human rights, so our country can once again stand on the world stage as a force for good. And we need to win so we can properly invest in our public services, end the scandal in social care and build a more equal society.

We have to move forward as a party – it is only when Labour looks to the future that we win.

Endless Conservative rule isn’t inevitable, but neither is a Labour victory. Another future is possible, but we have to unite as a party and as a movement to fight for it.

Labour’s values are my values: peace, justice, equality and dignity for all. Labour can win the next election if we hold true to those values, unite as a movement and show the country our vision for the future.

And when we win, it will not be for ourselves, it will be for all those communities who need us now more than ever – and everyone who wants to live in a better world.

Sir Keir Starmer is shadow Brexit secretary, MP for Holborn and St Pancras and a Labour leadership candidate

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