Last night’s nomination meeting Rochford & Southend East Constituency Labour Party is, by a long way, the fullest I’ve seen the Labour Hall in Southend. 43 people, in all, turned out to make the decision for who we, as the local Party, should nominate for the leadership and deputy leadership race.
There were a lot of new faces there, which was exciting to see, and I spoke (Without notes — wouldn’t recommend it -Ed) in favour of Yvette Cooper. Of the other candidates, Mike Le Surf had come up from Basildon way and spoke for Andy Burnham, Jim Dowd MP gave a brief speech for Liz Kendall, and our own Matt Softly spoke for Jeremy Corbyn.
The subsequent comments from the floor turned into a bit of a pro- and anti-Corbyn battle, with a number of members I didn’t recognise calling for Corbyn’s anti-austerity platform, and a number of other members highlighting some less savour aspects of Mr Corbyn’s politics.
The vote was close, but a clear and decisive win on the first round for Yvette Cooper.
The deputy leadership debate was briefer, with Mike Le Surf speaking for Caroline Flint, Gareth Barrett from Brentwood speaking for Stella Creasy, our own Dave Alston speaking for Angela Eagle, and my good friend Gray Sergeant on behalf of Ben Bradshaw.
I contributed from the floor in support of Stella, citing her community campaigning ethos, and the similarity between that and the techniques which have worked so effectively for us in Southend, and put us in the position of being in the power. I believe, as I said last night, that she can put Labour in power nationally.
The result was, again, close, going to a third round with a tie for second place. But Stella Creasy won out over all, and is Rochford & Southend East’s nomination for deputy leader.
I am delighted. Southend, both sides of it, has chosen the path to power over the wilderness, relevance over comfortable irrelevance. I sincerely hope that a similar decision is made by the Labour membership as a whole.