barrieBarrie Cunning says Labour needs a leader capable of compromise, for the sake of not just the party but the country. 


In politics you should always expect the unexpected. Nobody expected Jeremy Corbyn to win the leadership election twelve months ago, and this time around nobody expects Owen Smith to win. But he can.

At the last leadership election I voted for Yvette Cooper, but at the same time I was also taken in by Jeremy Corbyn. I was curious to know why someone who has been a backbencher since 1983 and at times a major critic of the previous Labour government felt he could lead the Labour Party.

“Straight talking, honest politics” was Jeremy’s  mantra from day one. In effect this was a declaration of war on spin, but the irony is that the Corbyn leadership has simply become the architect of a new kind of spin.

Surely “straight talking, honest politics” suggests an open dialogue between all factions of the Labour Party in an attempt to reach compromise to achieve a common goal?

Jeremy sets great store by his being a principled politician, and principles must be respected. But as we have seen over the last twelve months, dogged attachment to a single point of view can result in leadership limitations.

The Labour Party needs a leader capable of compromise, for the sake of not just the party but also the country.

For our democracy to properly work we need an effective opposition to hold the government to account and right now we aren’t getting that. What we are displaying to the country is nothing short of a political Punch and Judy show, and as a Labour Party member and former parliamentary candidate it makes me cringe with embarrassment. It has to stop.

People often seem stunned when they talk about the rise and popularity of Jeremy Corbyn, but you don’t have to have a PhD to understand that the perceived complexities are largely spin based.

The Labour Party in the pursuit of power to 1997 was very much in tune with the national mood. The party could identify with people in Labour heartlands like Sunderland, Glasgow and the home of Scottish socialism North Lanarkshire, and people in those areas could identify with the Labour Party. They knew what Labour stood for. Labour was a trusted household brand that transcended social class and gave people from different backgrounds a reason to believe in politics.

I don’t write this as someone who is completely anti Jeremy but rather as someone who can see the pros and cons.

There is no denying that Jeremy has enthused a large section of people who previously felt that politics had given up on them, that mainstream politics only spoke for the middle classes who are only interested in the consumer benefits of political power to prop up their existing lifestyle, at the expense of pursuing a true radical socialist agenda and at the further expense of those people up and down the country who really need a strong Labour voice.

Irrespective of who wins the Labour leadership contest I want to see the next Labour leader be able to unite the party with a strong collective voice which adopts the principles of socialism but acknowledges that you also need credibility to be an electable party.