Harry Barnes has posted a letter addressing the five Labour Leadership candidates calling upon them to publish a Manifesto of Intent that outlines to everyone concerned the direction in which they would seek to take the Labour Party if they were to win.
This is an excellent idea that came out of a meeting of the Dronfield Labour Party whose discussion group had met to talk about the ideas of the socialist Ralph Miliband in light of David and Ed Miliband being among those running for the Labour Leadership (Barnes has a post on this on Next Left).
The race has already been restricted by the very nature of the selection process of the five candidates and we need to make sure there are no further restrictions. The Labour Party needs this to ensure that the Leadership race is a debate of ideas and so the suggestion that each candidate produce a document that can be widely distributed, commented upon and debated is most welcome. I’d personally like to see digital manifestos posted online that members and supporters can add their own ideas to. At least that way we’ll ensure everyone is heard.
David Miliband has already been handed his copy of the statement below and as the leading candidate, and my choice as well as the choice of others here, I hope he leads the way in committing himself to producing a personal manifesto. You can add your support here.
TO THE CANDIDATES IN THE LABOUR LEADERSHIP ELECTIONS
The supporters of this letter are members of either the Labour Party and/or members of organisations affiliated to the Labour Party who pay their political levy or its equivalent.
Immediately after the election we felt that Labour needed a period of reflection and serious internal debate to assess the reasons for our defeat and to think through the direction we needed to move into.
Instead we have been confronted with an imperfect leadership contest in which the Party’s wider membership and its affiliated bodies have been excluded from the nominating procedure. This has restricted both the range of the political viewpoints and the background links of the candidates who have emerged.
What we feel now needs to be done is to seek to use the current imperfect leadership contest as a means by which we can acquire something like the form of assessment and internal debate which we feel is necessary.
This means that there is a need to divert the current contest away from being just another ’X factor’ game show, towards being a serious debate related to the principles contained in the Labour Party Constitution which state – “The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect”.
To help achieve the depth and nature of the debate that we are seeking, we call upon each of the candidates to publish a Manifesto of Intent to make clear to everyone the direction in which they would seek to lead the Labour Party, based on their assessment of the reasons behind the electoral defeat and their interpretation of the direction where the principles quoted above should now lead us.
We ask that these Manifestos of Intent should be distributed widely in order to generate extensive discussion across the Party and beyond, so that this will assist those voting in the leadership contest to reach balanced and principled understandings.