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There we have it. After what seems an eternity, the results are in. Corbyn won with 59.5% of the vote in the first round. An electoral wipe out of Andy Burnham on 19%, Yvette Cooper on 17% and Liz Kendall on 4.5%. We also saw Tom Watson win the deputy leadership vote with 50.7% after the third round.
Prior to the result I had openly said that should Corbyn and Watson both win I was not sure whether I could stay in the party as a supporter. I am centre-left ideologically and throughout this contest I, like many others, have dealt with centre-left views being questioned as wrong and a betrayal of our party.
As the results came in my worst fears were realised, however I will not be leaving the party. Why? As mentioned several times in victory speeches, the Labour Party is bigger than the leadership. It would serve no purpose to leave the party with no internal opposition to debate with.
Debate is healthy and a vital part of politics. Politics isn’t about agreeing blindly; it’s about coming together and sharing ideas – and believe me I will not remain silent. I will be debating the ideas. I will challenge just as I have done previously.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t believe Corbyn, Cooper, Burnham or Kendall had all the answers, but that is what is so beautiful about the democratic process. Democracy is for those who take an interest, are willing to learn, are open to ideas and are not so stubborn that you can’t be shifted in their opinions.
Corbyn’s victory speech was energised and filled with passion, fighting the ‘grotesque inequality’ within Britain and the world. It was filled with thanks to his supporters and volunteers. To be honest, I felt a buzz. Listening to his victory speech I can see why people have warmed to him, and though I disagree with Corbyn ideologically I have not once resorted to petty name calling and character assassination.
I like a politician with character and principles, regardless of which side of the political spectrum they sit on. I think the general public do as well. It would be silly to deny that today’s victory for Corbyn doesn’t provide a huge opportunity. Interestingly, people have messaged me following my work with the Labour Party to ask how they can get involved with Labour. People have asked my opinions and I have debated with them. Even guys on Grindr have asked my opinion once they found out I have a passion for politics.
I will not sit here and add fuel to the fire that some are trying to ignite. I will not say that Labour has just signed away another election to the Tories. Though I may not agree with the result and the candidates that won, I accept it. It was a democratic process and the people have decided and it would go against my own principles to say that a democratic outcome was wrong.
There is a difference between the debate during a leadership election and the debate we have after it. A leadership election is all about the individual’s vision. Post-election it is about coming together. Cliché as it is, we must unite as a party. We cannot and we should not split into two warring factions of Corbynites and New Labour, because that would do the party and the public a disservice.
We need to be an effective opposition, something that in my own personal opinion we were not under the previous leadership, and that annoyed me more than the disagreements on policy. I do not think we should read too much into the resignations of shadow ministers such as Tristram Hunt, Chris Leslie and Rachel Reeves, for one simple reason: we have a new leader. What entitles you to think you have a right to that job anyway?
I imagine Corbyn will attempt to create a shadow cabinet that encompass all aspects of the Labour Party and not the leftists. He has said he wants an open and democratic approach to policy creation. It is that reason that I am not as disheartened as I thought I would be, not as disheartened as my centrist friends and colleagues, but I wait with anticipation – and an element of caution.
I will give Corbyn the benefit of the doubt and if in one month, one year or at the time of the next general election in 2020, he has convinced me and the rest of the nation of his leadership and vision, I will gladly hold up my hands and say ‘I was wrong’. In the meantime, let us come together as a party and be the effective opposition this country needs.