A plea for Labour
As someone who joined Labour as a kid on his 15th birthday, a little over 37 years ago, it is a great privilege to be deputy leader. I also believe it is a position that, above all, carries great responsibility to keep the party united.
In the recent weeks and months many good people have contacted me to say they are considering leaving the Labour Party because they no longer feel it holds a place for them.
To me the culture of pluralism and the diversity of voices on the left has always been Labour's great strength. However there can be little doubt that, buffeted by the current tone of debate, it is now imperative to restate the great social democratic and democratic socialist tradition that has been Labour's spine for over 100 years.
We need to look past the current post-Brexit crisis to the fundamental challenges and threats that we face - of climate change, automation, health inequality, the crisis in housing, and the flow of capital and wealth from West to East.
On Monday evening, colleagues in Westminster will join me for the launch of the Future Britain Group to restate those social democratic and democratic socialist values, to ensure all voices are heard, and to address those major policy challenges that our country faces.
When Jeremy and I met earlier this week and discussed the formation of this new group, we talked about the need for all members of the parliamentary party to feel valued in our policy making and day to day priority setting. He is also establishing a series of departmental seminars to broaden the debate.
I know there are some in the party who choose a doctrinaire utopianism that often denies others their voice. Yet Labour is only ever successful when our ideals and values are applied to practical and radical reform.
There has been much nonsense in the last few days from some within our ranks who do not like pluralist discussion and the beat of civilised political discourse. They rage that I am trying to cause a split within the party.
Far from it. The Future Britain Group is the vehicle with which we can avert that split, and ensure we are ready to govern with progressive policies to deliver radical solutions. That is why I would urge anyone thinking of resigning their membership: please do not leave the Labour Party.