As I write this, many of you have already chosen which of the leadership candidates to nominate. By my count, 86 of you have yet to do so. This letter, predominantly, is aimed at those 86.
We as a party are all bitterly disappointed to not have been successful at the general election. All of us worked hard, were committed, and wanted that chance to build the better Britain that we deserve. We wanted to be toasting a hard-won victory at this point, not selecting a new leader.
But that’s where we are. And in the first instance, the burden of that choice is on you.
The reason that I’m writing to you is to make a simple request: make sure that the ballot paper contains as wide a choice as possible.
Thanks to Ed Miliband’s reforms, this will be the first leadership election to give each vote equal weight. This means that the choice can be made by the party as a whole, and without the flawed — but effective — charges of a leader being the chosen by one particular part of our party. We are a broad church, with a wealth of opinions and viewpoints represented in our ranks, and only with the fullest choice possible, the widest debate we can muster, can we hope to find the best direction to get us back into power and making a difference in people’s lives.
Labour rules require 35 MPs nominate a candidate. Three of those candidates — Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall — have already met that threshold. I urge you to use your nomination to make sure that the remaining two — Mary Creagh and Jeremy Corbyn — are there on the ballot paper alongside them.
I’m not asking you to vote for them, campaign for them, even support them. I haven’t decided who I’m supporting, besides which the debate has barely begun; I’m in position to tell you who you should vote for. But by nominating one of those two, you can do your party the service of giving them a wider choice.
We have a bitter five years ahead of us, and a mountain to climb to get back into a position where we can help the people most reliant on us. This is a choice we cannot afford to get wrong, or a debate we can afford to cut short out of discomfort or undue haste.
Nominations close on Monday. I, on behalf of your fellow party members the whole country over, ask you to have an eye to this debate in making your decision.