Frank Field MP
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Labour's Future


I nominated Jeremy Corbyn to ensure he could compete for the Labour leadership in 2015. I did not expect him to win. Nor did members of his campaign group. But I did wish for his tradition in the Labour Party to be part of the leadership debate.

Like Jeremy and his campaign group, I did not foresee the impact of Ed Miliband’s introduction of a £3 membership offer with full voting rights. Jeremy was elected leader – not only once, but twice – in opposition to the vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I was part of that majority.

At the start of the general election campaign, I thought we would lose heavily. I had no idea of what was in store: a huge increase in turnout led by Jeremy’s campaigning. I did say at the outset, though, that Jeremy had changed Labour politics for the foreseeable future and that I welcomed this change.

The increase in turnout was one of the reasons for Jeremy winning an extra 30 seats. The Tories, after running the worst campaign I can ever remember, still ended up with 56 seats more than we did.

There will be much interest in the hand-to-hand combat that will rightly take place between Labour and the new government between now and the next election. This combat is important as it is a continuation of an election campaign where in England and Wales we have reverted to a two-party system.

Another urgent task, however, is the less glamorous but equally significant one of making our manifesto pledges stack up in a way that moves our support base on from 40% in our two-party system, to a figure of 46-47% that would deliver a Labour government with a good working majority.

Helping make what was thought to be yesterday’s unthinkable policies into tomorrow’s workable programme is what I and others in the Labour Party will now be working on. As well, I shall be trying to bring to success those campaigns I initiated in the last Parliament and on which there has already been some progress made: protecting workers in the gig economy, bringing the BHS saga to a full conclusion, and countering hunger and destitution, to list only three.

I was not old enough to know what it was like to sense the great optimism of 1945. I certainly experienced that feeling in 1997 when Tony Blair won. I sense a different feeling this time.

For the first time in a very long time, there is not only a sense of hope, but a determination amongst Labour voters that they have had enough of the hand that has been dealt to them. It is crucial that we build on that hope and determination with a range of policies which increases our base of support in equal measure to the increase which Jeremy achieved in this year’s general election.

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