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Opinion: Select a leader who can win an election

PUBLISHED: 08:30 11 January 2020

East Ham MP Stephen Timms does not want the new Labour leader to hand power to the Tories.

East Ham MP Stephen Timms does not want the new Labour leader to hand power to the Tories.

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Labour has just suffered its worst election result since 1935. The Conservatives will be able to do whatever they choose in government.

Millions of people who look to the Labour Party to protect their interests, and to stand up for them, have been badly let down.

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I didn't vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader, but he has achieved some important things. In particular, he has succeeded in re-engaging young people, not just with the Labour Party but with democratic politics, which many had been in danger of giving up on. However, he must also accept responsibility for bad judgments in the Labour campaign. And his failure to deal effectively with - or to apologise for - the party's antisemitism problem has caused immense damage.

Jeremy has announced he will step down, rightly waiting until a new leader has been elected, likely to be in March. Labour Party members have to choose a new leader. Some prominent MPs have announced their candidacies. Others are reported to be considering joining them.

In my view, one consideration alone should be uppermost in members' minds when they choose. It is this: which candidate is most likely to win an election? Who is best placed to be elected prime minister? By the next election, Labour is likely to have been out of government for 14 years, or more. Even more damage will have been done to public services, the housing crisis will have worsened and life will be even harder for low income families.

We must not choose a party leader who - by losing the next election too - will hand power to the Tories for another four or five years. Labour must now focus ruthlessly on winning at the next opportunity. Our own leadership election will be crucial in making it possible.


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