Thursday, 15 June 2017

Guardian letter on both wings of the Labour Party needing to build bridges


Both wings of Labour must quickly build bridges. We centrists must admit we were wrong about Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to win electoral support and his suitability to be leader or prime minister. We must offer all assistance to the task of securing a Labour victory. And he and his team must show magnanimity in the heat of victory by welcoming former critics back on to the shadow frontbench and making clear to their supporters that Labour is and always has been a broad church that tolerates and even celebrates a wide range of opinions.

This is important for two reasons. First, Jeremy Corbyn will be able to show the country that he leads not only a unified party but one that represents all strands of Labour thinking. Second, it is a point of electoral maths that to win a majority, Labour must attract people who voted Conservative. It can only do this with the centrists on board.

Pragmatic Radicalism, the policy forum I co-founded in 2011, sought to bring different parts of the party and others together to develop policy ideas. As a backbencher, Jeremy Corbyn spoke at our 2012 Top of the Policies event on defence, chaired by Jim Murphy, the then shadow defence secretary. Such debates, in a spirit of openness and respect, are needed more than ever now. I hope that Jeremy might even chair one of our events in this new parliament.

John Slinger
Chair, Pragmatic Radicalism