A Sit-Down with Labour Leadership Contenders

With the resignation of Labour leader Youma, the leadership contest to head one of Britain’s great two political titans is underway. However, this time any future leader will be under pressure. Despite being in two successive governments the party has continued to drop in the polls now ending up the 4th largest party in the Commons. It has been supplanted as the traditional home of the left by the rising Solidarity and their path back to power seems doubtful if not impossible. Thus the Telegraph has interviewed the leading contenders in the upcoming leadership race. 

Imaredditaccount5

First have imadearedditaccount, former Leader of the Scottish Progressives, and current SoS for NI. Though to new Labour they are a veteran operator, especially in the devolved nations. 

First, please introduce yourself and tell us why you want to be Labour leader?

I am Avery, current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Labour peer and leader of welsh labour. I’m running to be labour leader because quite frankly labour needs someone who is willing to step up, revive the party and produce results.

While the other candidates are great for example viljo has been in party leadership throughout our decline, Rohan having led Scottish labour also through a decline and also a lack of experience and I cannot comment on maro. I on the other hand am a fresh voice who has produced results by leading the Scottish progressives to a record result and streamlining how welsh labour is run which I believe I can replicate in the national party.

What makes you the most qualified to be a leader? Aside from you the other candidates seem to be more senior and experienced so why are you the best choice?

Well as mentioned before I have a lot of experience particularly in leading the Scottish progressives who I grew from a party with very little presence in Scotland to a major party with a big voice in government. I have also been part of government leadership in westminister during the Phoenix coalition where I served as leader of the house and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. In addition to this I also led the IPP in Northern Ireland and served as deputy leader of the SDLP after the merger.

I want to state that I have the utmost respect for all the candidates and all would be great leaders in my opinion however again as mentioned before most have some flaws such as viljo who has been in leadership through a record election defeat and a nose dive in polls, Rohan who isn’t very experienced in leadership and has led Slab through another poll free fall although one could argue this was inevitable.

Now in government with solidarity the government has had a number of controversies: mishandling the nationalization, leaks such as the Osaka accords. What is your response to these events especially the leaks, and if you become leader how will you improve the party and governments functioning ?

As a member of the government I have to say I was disappointed both at the leaks and at the response. I don’t think deleting cabinet minutes was the right way to go about it at all as it sort of just made it seem like we had something to hide which to my knowledge we did not. I believe it’s important to grow trust both between leadership and cabinet and between the government and the public. In my view this means further transparency on both accounts as well as better communication and such. It’s important leadership shares plans and ideas with cabinet as soon as it is practical and it is also important that any plans are made public as soon as possible.

Did you ever express disagreement at the move to delete cabinet minutes?

I believe it’s important labour step up and take a more active role in government. With recent polling it’s clear not only are the public noticing that solidarity are pulling a lot of the weight but it is also clear the public are turning away from the government because of this. In the beginning my first action will be reaching out to labour members of cabinet and working with them to accomplish the goals set out in the programme for government in regards to their portfolio. Mainly it’s just a matter of getting the labour frontbench motivated.

Labour despite being in government for two terms has continued to fall in the polls, where do you see the future of Labour and what plans do you have to turn the party around?

I see the future of labour truthfully as a third party in British politics. I personally think it’s unrealistic to aspire to be first place again at least for the foreseeable future however I do believe that if elected I will be able to turn around are free fall. 

I believe first of all that it’s important to not pile work on people. Less is more and if an mp or frontbench member has too much to do they simply won’t do it and get burnt out. We need to start spreading the workload away from a few key people at the top and get lower members involved. 

This is tied in with my plan to both make labour a more transparent party and also to make labour more decentralised as atm most of the power is vested in leadership rather than other key party officers such as the chief whip or the press officer. I also hope to revive our press game by assisting in bringing back labour weekly.

Soldarity has had a great rise in popularity and now you are junior partners to them. Seeing their success should Labour turn more to the left ?

You already said that you see labour as a third party,  so where is the future of the solidarity Labour relationship going, is Labour resigned to be a junior party in governments now?

As someone solidly on the left of the party I do think turning towards the left would be something I believe would be beneficial however it is important that we don’t go to far. I believe strongly in the values of compromise and working together for the greater good as can be seen by my coalition with the tories in Scotland during my time in the Scottish progressives. With solidarity on the left and pwp towards the centre it is important for labour to occupy that middle ground between the two.

I wouldn’t say we are resigned to being a junior party. However it is quite clear that at the moment solidarity is immensely more popular with the British public and I believe it’s fairly rational to assume we will be the junior partner in any government with solidarity for at least another term.

That’s not to say we expect to remain so forever and a lot can change in a few terms as we saw with the rapid rise of solidarity in the first place. 

Labour was also a third party last term and still led a government so it’s entirely possible that is on the table also.

Labour has been blamed for having a string of poor leaders who have left abruptly and have largely failed to revitalize the party, how would you be a more effective leader ?

Having served under lily as a junior coalition partner and under youma as a labour frontbench member I can say both were excellent leaders who deeply cared about their party however I recognise the argument could be made they didn’t go far enough. As to how I would be more effective well as said before I believe transparency, reviving our press, good communication and ensuring not to overload people with work will go a long way in revitalising the party for the better. This has worked for me before both in Scottish progressives where we saw rapid growth in the polls and members who genuinely enjoyed working for the party and welsh labour where we have curbed the drop in polls and also have an ms and frontbench team who enjoy being in the party and don’t feel overwhelmed with work.

Any final message or anything else you want to say?

Yes. This labour leadership election is one that could make or break the party and it is absolutely vital that membership elects the person they think will be able to lead the party out of this dark time. Obviously in my opinion that person is me but ultimately it is up to members to decide who they think will be able to do that. It has been a pleasure speaking with you.

Rohanite

Rohan is a new face to Labour but has had a rapid descent up the party ranks, currently serving as the leader of Scottish Labour and the party’s press officer.

First, please introduce yourself and tell us why you want to be Labour leader?

Hi, I am Rohanite272 but just call me Rohan, I am currently the leader of Scottish Labour and the Press Officer for the Labour Party. I am running for the position of Leader of the Labour Party because I have a positive new vision for the Labour Party and will try my hardest to return it to its old levels of success and I represent a new generation of Labour members.

What makes you the most qualified to be a leader? Aside from you the other candidates seem to be more senior and experienced so why are you the best choice?

Whilst I may not have been around for the same amount of time as other candidates I believe I have proven myself as qualified, I have written a large number of bills for Scottish Labour and have been doing a lot of debating for Scottish Labour in the Holyrood. And yes, whilst Scottish Labour has been falling for the past few months, the damage hasn’t been nearly as bad as it could’ve been, I believe that the decline could be much worse and that I have managed to control it. Now on Labour’s press, it is true that our press hasn’t been as active as it could be but part of that is that the rest of the party has been quite busy over the last few weeks, as have I, which means that we haven’t been able to produce as much press as I would’ve liked.

Now in government with solidarity the government has had a number of controversies: mishandling the nationalization, leaks such as the Osaka accords. What is your response to these events especially the leaks, and if you become leader how will you improve the party and governments functioning ?

On nationalisation, that was a mistake by the government that I would make sure wouldn’t happen again. With the Osaka Accords, that was something carried over from the previous government which we are only just starting to look at and try to fix. Leaks are also obviously hard to control and are a risk to national security so there really isn’t much I can realistically do to stop that, however I will try to do my best to control them. On party functioning, there are various things I will do to help with that, like redoing the parties discord to enhance communication and various other things.

So with the Osaka Accords, when you say you trying to fix it, why do you think it was it leaked before it was fixed, is this a sign of unhappiness with the accords and govt ?

No, it’s not a sign of unhappiness throughout this govt, it could suggest that one person might be unhappy but that is there problem, and if they want to risk national security for that then that’s there prerogative but they are not free from the consequences of leaking and risking national security.

So it was leaked from the government but it was just one person Not a reflection of the whole cabinet or government.

That’s my understanding yes

If you were to be leader how would u steer labour in govt and the direction of the govt as whole?

I would try to keep Labour as the left wing Social Democratic Party it is now whilst having a re-examination of some of our more specific policies, I would also try to change the parties internal view of itself from thinking that we are one of the two major parties, which we aren’t anymore but people in the party still talk about the party like that, to we are a large party that needs to focus on growth.

Labour despite being in government for two terms has continued to fall in the polls, where do you see the future of Labour and what plans do you have to turn the party around?

The Future of the Labour Party, isn’t necessarily going to be us becoming one of the two largest parties again, but one where we are kingmakers and influence policy, I will work to do this by encouraging new and old members to become active in Labour and stay active through a new updated beginners guide and by making it easier to talk to those of us higher up in the chain

Soldarity has had a great rise in popularity and now you are junior partners to them. Seeing their success should Labour turn more to the left ?

You already said that you see labour as a third party,  so where is the future of the solidarity Labour relationship going, is Labour resigned to be a junior party in governments now?

Yes and No, we fit within the niche of the centrist lib dems and the left wing Solidarity, we need to appeal to both left wing lib dems and more right wing Solidarity members

Any final message or anything else you want to say?

I may not be the most senior candidate, but I believe that I have shown that I can do the job well and can put Labour into a strong and sustainable king-making position, and I will fight hard for a responsible progressive vision for the future of the country.

Maro

Last is Maro, Leader of the House of Lords.

First, please introduce yourself and tell us why you want to be Labour leader?

I am Maroiogog, current leader of the House of Lords, and long time Labour member. Things I may be known for include being a former Deputy Leader of Labour, Turning Point Surrey and having been Northern Ireland Secretary during Sunrise.

What makes you the most qualified to be a leader? Aside from you the other candidates seem to be more senior and experienced so why are you the best choice?

Firstly, I have plenty of experience being in Leadership from the few months I was in Leadership during Sunrise, which was undoubtedly one of the more traumatic times for our party and difficult to manage. I had a crucial role in managing the after effects of that going in GE13. I have proven in the past that I can lead the Party successfully.

Most importantly though, I have not been involved with the running of the Labour party for slightly more than a year now. In that time I have had the time to observe, talk to people, explore things and gain valuable experience from sides of politics that I had not explored or understood in the past. I think it is now appropriate for me to put this experience I have gained to good use.

Now in government with solidarity the government has had a number of controversies: mishandling the nationalization, leaks such as the Osaka accords. What is your response to these events especially the leaks, and if you become leader how will you improve the party and governments functioning ?

Yes there have been. In general I will try to be present and aware of the bigger picture of ongoing discussions in the cabinet and the departments. Communications could be made better between people and between departments and I would try and see how my colleagues feel about changing some of the arrangements in our communications systems so that more people can see more things and be more involved.

I think some of the bumps there have been on the road so far would’ve been hard to avoid, of course I very strongly think leakers should be nowhere near the cabinet but catching them is a lot easier said than done. Making sure everyone is happy with what is going on seems to be the only real preventative measure.

As for internal to our party I want to streamline processes and remove unnecessary barriers to participation that we have put in place. Anyone should be able to have their say and contribute to our press output, to our policy and to our legislation output. I want our party culture to be more tightly knit and one where people are encouraged to focus on what they really like within politics, which could be legislation, local campaigning or one of the devolved assemblies. It is a lot easier to do things when you actually enjoy doing them.

Is the leaking a sign of unhappiness in Labour over being in a govt with solidarity ?

No, especially cause we don’t know where it’s from and we think there are different leakers.

So you think there’s multiple leakers in cabinet?

I suspect so.

Labour despite being in government for two terms has continued to fall in the polls, where do you see the future of Labour and what plans do you have to turn the party around?

I think most of it is down to our inability to translate our energies into concrete action. For example, last term we only managed to pass one bill. I think that is a tremendous failure for our party. My main goal as leader would be to see Labour become a party that gets stuff done again, a Party that has a tangible impact on the legislation, on the press and in the chambers of parliament.

Personally, I would much rather be remembered as the party leader that managed to pass important left wing reforms that our country so desperately needs rather than a leader that managed to gain a few points in the polls. I strongly believe that if the country sees in us an energetic force that gets things done they will be interested in voting for us.

In terms of how I would do it my plans are relatively simple, I plan to overhaul our bloated internal communication systems and simplify our party structure somewhat. We have lost members, we are a smaller party and we need to adapt to that whether we want to or not. This means everyone needs to have a say in things like our press, policy and legislation output and get involved with it. Parties with small memberships succeed when they are efficient and hard working, that is the ideal party Labour should be right now.

Soldarity has had a great rise in popularity and now you are junior partners to them. Seeing their success should Labour turn more to the left ?

You already said that you see labour as a third party,  so where is the future of the solidarity Labour relationship going, is Labour resigned to be a junior party in governments now?

I think Labour should turn more to the left yes, but this belief of mine is not caused by what Solidarity is doing, I simply stand to the left of where our party has stood in recent times. 

I hope the Solidarity-Labour relationship keeps going forward as strong as it has been so far. I believe Solidarity is our natural partner and our alliance has been a very fruitful one so far. There have been some hiccups along the way but I can honestly say working with them has been pleasant and I would be fully committed to continue this Government.

I do not know if we are resigned to be a junior party in perpetuity. Of course I hope not, and I will do all I can to ensure we are not stuck in this predicament, but the answer to that question is only determined by Labour’s leader to a certain extent.

What I can say for sure though is that I do not have any hard feelings nor any desire for a “revenge” of sorts on Solidarity. I wouldn’t have in mind the particular goal of becoming the highest polling left wing party again. At this moment in time we are blessed with very strong and favourable allies and I would like it to continue this way. 

Labour has been blamed for having a string of poor leaders who have left abruptly and have largely failed to revitalize the party, how would you be a more effective leader ?

I am not here to point fingers. I know for a fact every leader we have had recently has put a lot of honest work into this party and my sincere thanks go to them. The personal reasons why they left were also out of their control, so nobody should hold it against any of them.

I agree our party needs to be re-energized. I believe the first thing a leader should do at the moment is lead from the front, which is why I have taken the initiative, helped negotiate large sections of the coalition agreement, took up a cabinet spot and have written a couple of bills thus far this term. That will very much be my style of Leadership: active, present and visible in parliament, in cabinet and in the press. If we want an energetic party the leader must be the first person to be energetic.

Having experience having already administered the party in the past I am confident I can hit the ground running and start doing so quickly.

Ohprkl

Ohprkl the current Party Chairman and apparent frontrunner in the race did not respond to a request for an interview. 

Written by Tres Commas special reporter.

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