Blogpost by cllr Gavin Callaghan
"I want Labour to have a Leader that can command the confidence of the country, win a General Election and become our nation’s Prime Minister.
It is no mean feat.
In the history of the Labour movement there has only ever been six Prime Ministers and only four of these have led the party into a General Election and acquired the support of the British public through the ballot box.
It means the challenge for whoever leads Labour is great. They must be a person capable of inspiring a nation – not just in its thousands, but in its millions.
I have never supported Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party because I do not believe he is capable of being the seventh Labour Prime Minister. I think his incompetence, style and ideological adherence to the unelectable economic policies he has devoted his political career to, mean he is out of touch with the 32 million people that make up the electorate.
In the nine months he has been Leader he has failed, in the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Budget, the Local Elections and the EU referendum, to convince me that I was wrong and the 250,000 members and supporters who gave him this chance to serve, were right.
In the next few weeks Labour will now enter into another Leadership contest. Its second in less than a year.
In their wisdom, Labour’s National Executive Committee has decided that Jeremy Corbyn is to become the first leadership candidate in the history of our movement to be on the ballot paper without having secured the nominations of a single Labour MP or MEP. It is an unprecedented and, in my view, dangerous decision to make.
His challenger is Angela Eagle, who despite 19 years as an MP, was never promoted to the Cabinet or a great office of state in a Shadow Cabinet.
For both of these candidates I have burning questions I need answering in order for me to believe they are capable of leading the country; can they win a General Election? Do they understand the fundamental policy shifts that we need to make in order to win a general election on issues such as immigration and welfare? Is the Leader prepared to celebrate, not trash, the last Labour Government’s record?
I am not convinced that either Jeremy or Angela can answer these questions to an electable degree.
Both are vying to position themselves as the ‘left wing’ candidate at a time when the country shows no signs of veering to the left of the spectrum. Indeed, this is a time when the exact opposite is almost certainly true.
Owen Smith has also entered the contest. He is a credible candidate who must set his stall out and articulate a new message for Labour members that seeks to address the concerns that I raised. Having only been elected in 2010 Owen is not dogged by the ‘Blair/Brown’ questions of Corbyn or Eagle and he is not an MP who voted on the Iraq war.
However, with Eagle and Smith on the ballot, it is now likely to pave the way for Jeremy to win with ease. A result I fear will damage Labour beyond all recognition.
We should not let that happen.
Because for a Labour activist this is a tortuous time to be in the party. In recent weeks I have been told by the men and women who have campaigned alongside me in South Essex, to ‘leave the party’ or ‘join the Tories’. I have been subject to abuse on social media from members of the party who turned up to our movement nine months ago and who have barely lifted a finger for the party since.
I don’t say this because I want sympathy. I chose to be in politics; I chose to put my head above the parapet and voice my opinions; I chose to let the people of South Essex understand the values and the principles that govern my politics.
You could argue that winning my seat on Basildon Council and fending off UKIP in the General Election last year demonstrates a certain perceptiveness with the public that Corbyn sycophants would do well to take the time to understand.
Instead I say this to demonstrate how divisive and politically rudderless life is under Corbyn.
If he stands down and makes this Leadership contest a proper contest between credible candidates capable of becoming Prime Minister, I will engage. However If the circus of three fights to the end, I will not play any part in the campaign because I think it risks splitting the party forever.
Instead I will continue to do my work as Labour councillor, representing people in Pitsea North West and Leading the Labour Group to positions of power that we have not held since 2002. That is the best way I can serve and it may prove to be the only way for any Labour activist who genuinely wants to help people, to make a difference any time soon.
This is a sorry state of affairs with blame attributable to every and all sides of the party. But for the sake of its future and the millions of people it is there to serve, the time has come to end the madness and move on from the Corbyn era.