Luke Pollard MP Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
Luke has welcomed the news that Keir Starmer has been elected Leader of the Labour Party by a landslide yesterday and had this to say:
“I’m over the moon that Keir Starmer has been elected Labour Leader. I’ve been a vocal supporter of Keir from the start of this contest and I want to explain why.
Keir has run a really positive campaign. His campaign was all about bringing people together, unifying all parts of our Labour movement and after so much division that is absolutely necessary. The election result in December was devastating and we cannot repeat it, which is why Keir’s campaign was all about focussing the Party on winning elections – only then can we change people’s lives. There is a poster I put up in Plymouth Labour’s office near the Hoe that says: “Plymouth Labour: our job is to win” and that’s exactly right.
I’ve been a vocal supporter of Keir as someone sits in the radical, co-operative centre left of our party but Keir was supported right all across the movement. Whether that is amongst local constituency parties, MPs and elected representatives, or trade unions and affiliated socialist societies, Keir had support from all parts of our party. You can’t win with 56% of the vote in the first round if he only appealed to a narrow section of the party and it is his ability to win support and unify that was such a key part of why I think he was the right choice for Labour Leader.
I want to thank the other contenders in this contest. Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy have run really good campaigns. I think we have come out of this process stronger and more united as a party and given the circumstances we find ourselves in the nation must come first at this time. We need to take the positivity of the contest and ensure it is modelled through the whole of the Labour Party and how we respond to the virus.
I speak a lot about Labour and Britain being a force for good in the world and I am glad Keir does too. I know Keir will restore people’s trust in the Labour Party as a force for good and a key part of that is tackling antisemitism and hate wherever it rears its ugly head. We have to get our own house in order if we are to be a viable alternative Government and that is a challenge I am not going to shy away from.
At this time of national crisis, our number one priority needs to be acting in the national interest on coronavirus. We need to be supportive of crucial steps the government is making – this also means providing a critical eye on Covid 19 so mistakes aren’t repeated.
The Coronavirus outbreak is the most serious public health crisis our country has faced in a generation. My thoughts are with all those affected – particularly those families who have lost loved ones – and with all the frontline workers: in our NHS, our care sector and elsewhere.
The British public are showing the best of humanity. All across the country new networks are springing up to support the most vulnerable including here in Plymouth where Plymouth Labour Community Action is helping people right across our city each and every day – I’m so very proud of every volunteer here. Community groups are expanding, food banks and charities are redoubling their efforts. We’re showing that physical isolation doesn’t mean that we stop supporting each other.
Since the start of the crisis, Keir’s response has been constructive. He has asked the right questions: successfully pressing for an income guarantee scheme and better support for health and social care workers.
He won’t shy away from calling out the government when it gets things wrong, but nor will he play politics with this issue.
I know Keir and Angela Rayner, the newly elected Deputy Leader will be a powerful Leadership team.
It will take time for Labour to win back the confidence of the voters we lost in December’s General Election. That must happen but for the moment, our focus must be getting through the virus outbreak, protecting lives and jobs. I know Keir will be a superb leader for our party, bringing together all wings of our movement, and he will provide the type of non-partisan opposition that our country needs.
Keir’s acceptance video is eight minutes long, but it is well worth watching. Thank you to everyone who shared their views with me throughout the campaign.”