Patchwork - OBV: Labour leader hustings


Patchwork and Operation Black Vote will jointly host perhaps, one of the only Labour leadership hustings that will be focused on  Black and minority ethnic communities and all young people.

This unique event will be held at one of the country’s global business consultants, KPMG. The audience will put the four candidates through their paces. 

Here is an introduction and snap shot to those seeking to lead the Labour Party:

Liz Kendall

First elected to Parliament in 2010, Kendall is the MP for Leicester West and the Shadow Health Minister within Parliament. Kendall’s political beliefs place her towards the right of the Labour party spectrum, and for many, her Labour leadership campaign echoes former Labour leader Tony Blair. In regards to health and social policy, Kendall believes that the UK’s current policies are in desperate need of change, and she is fighting to show that substantial reforms can be made even when national finances are tight. Her platform calls for a focus on prevention and patient-driven care and advocates for the use of new technology in order to cut costs and reduce the financial pressures on the NHS.

In regards to defence and foreign affairs, Kendall often takes an hawkish approach. Having voted with the Labour leadership on Syria in 2013, she affirms that the UK must be aware that it has an important role to play on the world stage and that it is in Britain’s national interest to fill that role alongside its international partners. Kendall stated, “the ability for our military to act must always remain part of the range of tools that we use. It’s really important, when we see what’s happening with ISIL in Syria and Iraq.”

Another aspect of her campaign is to push for the introduction of the living wage. She plans to “extend the legal remit of the low pay commission to work with employers, unions and civil society to identify practical, non-statutory ways to move wages towards the living wage, sector by sector.”

In regards to education, Kendall states that her first priority is investing in the early years of education, bringing the best heads and teachers to struggling schools, revising the current academic curriculum, and improving oversight to ensure that each school is held accountable for providing quality education. As a candidate, Kendall stands for bringing change to the Labour Party and shifting its agenda towards the center to get back in touch with the British electorate that has overwhelmingly elected a Tory government.

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn secured the 35 nominations needed to enter the Labour leadership election with just minutes to spare. As a firm anti-austerity candidate who aligns with the left side of the Labour party, the veteran MP from Islington is an unlikely leader who is devoted to the collective and champions a wide range of campaigns that fight for peace, justice, and solidarity.

When asked why he decided to stand as a candidate, Corbyn stated, “We had a discussion among a group of us on the left about how we might influence future developments of the party. All of us felt the leadership contest was not a good idea – there should have been a policy debate first. There wasn’t, so we decided somebody should put their hat in the ring in order to promote that debate. And, unfortunately, it’s my hat in the ring.”

His platform sticks to the core values of the Labour party, emphasizing that the exploitation of the poor by the rich is a facet that runs through every government policy. He argues that Conservative power is based on fear, whereas Labour values are based on providing hope for the future.

While Corbyn received nominations from three London mayoral candidates - David Lammy, Sadiq Khan and Gareth Thomas - who feel that an anti-austerity platform should be represented in the leadership election, there are doubts that Corbyn would be able to bring any power back to the Labour party in the face of the elected Conservative majority.

The majority of the UK, and even Corbyn himself, don’t think he has even the slightest chance at becoming the next Labour leader. However, while in an interview with The Guardian, Corbyn was asked if actually winning the contest would scare him. And in response, he smiled and said, “It would be a challenge.”

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham is the current MP for Leigh and shadow health secretary. He was born and raised in Liverpool and was educated at Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge but he was 14 by the time he entered the labour party at age 14 and was a Parliamentary officer for the NHS confederation. Burnham entered the House of Commons in June of 2001 in the general election and has retained his office since. Throughout Westminster he has become secretaries and ministers of various sectors such as the Home, Health, Culture Media & Sport, and the State offices. In the past ten years he has shown dedication to improving government services and sees his campaign as ‘the heart of Labour.’

He has voted for higher benefits over longer periods of time for those unable to work due to illness or disability. He is in favour of strengthening the education system with ‘the ambition to give all kids a truly comprehensive education’ in order to level out the winner and loser system. He supports head teachers who want to stand up to qualifications for all children to take 5 GCSEs and requirements for a foreign language if students wish to study something else. Burnham has also said he would not weaken the restrictions for Sunday shop hours as they are a critical time for shopkeepers to see their families. Burnham has also called on Prime Minister David Cameron to end uncertainty for Britain’s place within the EU and to tighten restrictions on migrants claiming benefits once entering the UK. He has also declared that contracts with not-for-profit charities would help improve NHS services as opposed to hiring private companies. In 2009 as Health Secretary he signed a decision to contract a hospital in Cambridgeshire out to non NHS organisations.

Burnham is the party favourite thus far in the race, but this is not his first attempt at running for labour party leader. He first ran in 2010 but came in fourth with 9% of the votes. He was Secretary of the Health Office during the Mid Staffs Scandal and

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper is the MP for Normanton, Pontefract, and Castleford, and has been in the House of Commons since May of 1997. She was born in Inverness, Scotland and is the current Shadow Home Secretary. Cooper was educated at Alton College, Oxford University and received a Kennedy Scholarship, a highly competitive academic award granted to only 8 British students to study at either Harvard or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she chose to study at Harvard before getting an MSc at the London School of Economics. Before becoming Shadow Home Secretary she has previously been appointed a Minister for Gender and Equalities, Foreign Secretary, Work and Pensions, Treasury, Housing and Planning for the local governments department, and the Health offices. Cooper’s voting turnout has proved she is a strong Labour candidate as an advocate for welfare and human rights issues. She has voted to protect welfare benefits, to increase the pay for those who cannot work from disabilities, and against raising the threshold for which people start to pay income tax.

 She wants to strengthen border control but also tackle the job and wage disparity for the low skilled or low income migrants that are affected by the waves of newcomers. Cooper is a longstanding ally to the LGBT community and is in support of same-sex marriage. She is not only an advocate for free education, but also an emphasis on the quality of life on younger students as well with access for mental health and learning disabilities for children. She was quoted saying ‘Parents should have a choice of schools, but truth is that most of them want a good local school.’

 She insists that more has to be done in order to win the favour of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority voters. What those issues have to be, she has not explicitly said.