This is my last blog of 2019, and my first of the new parliament following last week’s general election, and the devastating result for Labour.
I want to start by thanking everyone who voted for me and for Labour last week – I am very proud to have been re-elected to serve the people of Stretford and Urmston. It’s a great honour to represent this fabulous constituency, and I promise that I’ll always put you first and speak up for what I believe to be right for my constituents and for the country.
But I can’t and won’t disguise my shock, shame and despair at last week’s result. The Conservatives now have a significant majority in parliament, and we know they’ll use that to drive through policies that will be deeply divisive, exacerbate inequality, and harm our security, our planet and our future. I’m utterly ashamed that we in the Labour party let down the millions of people who need and deserve a Labour government. I’m especially ashamed that Jewish voters felt it wasn’t safe for them to vote Labour in this election.
We as a party have some hard questions to ask ourselves, not just about what went wrong, but how we get things right in future. More of the same won’t do. Nor will blaming others. Early next year, we will elect a new leader and deputy leader for our party. For me, what’s important is that when we come to decide who should be our new leader, we understand what the voters were telling us last week, and what we need to do differently to respond to their concerns, while never compromising on our socialist values. We need a leader who understands that, and who will rebuild voters’ trust in Labour.
Back in parliament this week, the scale of the challenge is visible to me. The Tories opposite are gleeful, triumphant, and determined to impose a hard Brexit deal and a US-style economic model on our country. I know that will harm my constituency, with its long and proud history of manufacturing and trade with the EU, it will harm individual workers who will see their rights at work under threat (look at the new EU Withdrawal Agreement bill, introduced this week, if you don’t believe me – the promised protections for workers have been removed from the new legislation), and will favour global corporate interests over tackling the climate emergency. What’s more, there are gaping holes in the government’s programme, set out in this week’s Queen’s speech, where policies to tackle appalling levels of poverty and homelessness, to protect those seeking asylum from persecution and conflict, and to guarantee decent care for elderly and disabled people, are missing.
I’m determined to fight for my constituents as hard as I can, to protect your interests and our future. But first, I’m looking forward to the Christmas and New Year break, after what has been without question the most gruelling year I’ve known in politics. This is a time to be with family and friends, to look out for our neighbours and those who may be lonely or on their own, to relax and enjoy one another’s company. I hope everyone who is celebrating this Christmas has a wonderful time and send my very best wishes for a peaceful New Year to all my constituents.