The first thing to say about Labour’s leadership election is that it takes a lot of guts to stand. You put yourself on the frontline and open yourself up to intense public scrutiny of everything you have done and everything you believe; and you are expected to present yourself well, provide vision and inspiration. And to cap it all you are signing up to three months gruelling campaigning up and down the country embracing every medium of interacting with people from traditional meetings in dusty rooms to the throw away soundbites of Twitter. So I take my hat off to all 12 colleagues members of parliament who have stepped forward to say they are ready to serve our great party as our leader or our deputy leader. Whoever is elected in September we will need all the talents and energy of this remarkable group of people, as well as that of many others. That is why my first hope for the campaign is that every candidate emerges stronger at the end of it. In that way, everyone can be a winner and the party and the country even more so.
But there can only be one person elected as Leader and under the new system that is being used for the first time that means every vote will count in equal measure. Party members and supporters will still be making up their minds, weighing up the candidates – reading what they say and watching them perform at hustings or in interviews. All of this should contribute to a full and exciting debate.
Of course MPs did not have the luxury of staying outside the process for too long. We had to nail our colours to the mast of one campaign or other if we wanted to take part in the nominating process and assist candidates getting across the line onto the ballot paper. I took a long while to make-up my mind on who to back for Llader. Even though I know each of the candidates fairly well I felt it was important to scrutinise them as a likely Leader and potential prime minister. There are strong arguments for each of them. So why did I end up backing Yvette Cooper?
Yvette is Labour through and through. The daughter of a teacher and a trade union leader with strong Labour values. She has overcome significant illness so has direct experience of some of the struggles that many people face. She understands very well the challenge of balancing competing commitments in a busy life. All these things matter but in the end we choose our leaders for their ability to lead. Yvette is always clear and focused, able to think through issues and press an argument persuasively. She has more than held her own as shadow home secretary taking the argument to the Tories in the House of Commons. She is a good media performer who does not buckle under pressure. She has the right values – introducing Surestart alongside Baroness Ashton, Bev Hughes and Tessa Jowell to support children in the early years. An MP for 18 years Yvette served in Gordon Brown’s cabinet as chief secretary to the Treasury and secretary of state for work and pensions. This range of experience give her the depth and breadth to take on the huge challenge of leading the Labour party at this difficult time. I believe she has the ideas and beliefs to inspire our movement and that she will quickly grow into the job. She will be a credible alternative prime minister.
Nic Dakin is member of parliament for Scunthorpe
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
Our work depends on you.