When the madness subsides, Labour need look no further than Wes Streeting for future leadership
I’ve often been critical, on Twitter and elsewhere, of some Labour MP’s. I know you’ll find that hard to believe, but it could be considered a fact. In this particular instance, having thought about it long and hard, I’m going to point out something positive about one, Wes Streeting.
When I say “thought…long and hard”, I can only stress how that actually verges on mildly insane-leaning obsession, a tendency I have when I can’t quite square something inside this tiny brain I am afflicted with.
I like balance. When we have balance, calm ensues. Calm is good. This is pretty much all I have to defend such temporary insanity.
Anyway, I digress…this Labour MP…Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North. He has piqued my interest, so I had a closer look.
I like his background. He appears, on the surface, to be someone genuine. Someone genuinely interested in politics for the human aspect, social justice and a fairer approach.
Born in Tower Hamlets, not known currently as a hot bed of democracy, he’s a local-boy-done-good story, graduating in History from Cambridge and generally making a name for himself in the amateur politics of student life as somewhat of a moderniser.
He has a sound working background in the voluntary sector, focussing on Education with generous helpings of reform and social justice.
He (narrowly) became a Labour Councillor in 2010, standing in the Chadwell ward of Redbridge London Borough Council. He had to give up his job at PwC, as it conflicted here, so he chose politics.
His next step was to contest the Aldborough ward of Redbridge LBC in 2014, a mere 15 months after his previous victory in Chadwell. He won this seat, defeating a good Tory candidate in Ruth Clark.
He was appointed Deputy Leader of the Council in May 2014, once Labour took control of it at the local elections. He resigned, but remains a backbench Councillor (not claiming any allowances from the Council, good boy!) when he was elected MP for Ilford North in May 2015.
This guy is progressive, in both attitude and ambition.
I watch a lot of the parliamentary committee sessions online, finding they are as close to accountability as some of the establishment will ever come. There is honesty available at these sessions, not found so often in normal political discourse.
Wes Streeting sits on the Treasury Committee, appointed in July 2015, but he’s already displaying a keen eye for deceit, which some would try to introduce in defence, when appearing before such committees.
It is here I found a chin-scratcher, which I am sharing with you only now.
The former lead of Britain Stronger In, Lord Stuart Rose, was utterly destroyed as a figure in the campaign to remain in the EU at one of these Treasury Committee sessions, when he was forced to admit that wages were being depressed in the UK as a result of our EU membership.
A little known fact, one I’m sure not lost on UK press but specifically ignored, was that Wes Streeting was the guy who teased this particular morsel from the mouth of Lord Rose. Wes Streeting, Labour MP, a strong campaigner for Remain. Not a Leaver. Not a Eurosceptic. Wes Streeting.
So, I had the instant ear-prick brought on by his sharp question which forced such a seasoned veteran as Lord Rose to slip up. I then had this compounded by the fact that the guy, invoking such joyous torture on an establishment figure, was none other than a Remain campaigner…and a new boy to boot!
I can only guess the media left this fact, a tasty morsel in its own right, alone on purpose. They had no desire at the time to lend any voice to that Lord Rose slip. He disappeared immediately after (and not returned yet, by all accounts) and they would not want to dwell on such a stake through the heart of the Remain campaign.
Why did Wes push this? This was my dilemma.
I looked, I read, and I tried to watch the man perform, when he got an opportunity from UK media. I needed to decide if he genuinely asked this question, blissfully ignorant of the result it would have on Lord Rose or indeed the whole Remain campaign. Did he ask it, knowing it might cause a stir, but genuinely doing his job as he saw fit, and asking what he believed was a fair question?
For a seasoned MP, I could put this down to them seizing on an idea and using it to promote their own persona to the general public. Perhaps ensuring Leave voters would remember them, should they manage to pull off the impossible Brexit result.
I don’t see that with Streeting. I see a guy who genuinely thought his question valid, thought it was a great opportunity to get a definitive answer on record, one he could use to invoke change later on. A first strike, if you like, at the heart of those who deal injustice and inequality out to us plebs, with hardly a sideways glance.
Ah, you can swipe all this romanticised social justice idealism aside easily, given the cynical atmosphere current politics operates, but I have to ask you to go have a look and see the guy’s record. It’s clean as a whistle.
I also see a young MP, full of beans, ambitious and confident enough in his own ability to not feel he needs such underhand tactics to aid his career progression. It tends to be the more aged politicians who hedge their bets by using such public spectacles, never the young blood with their natural exuberance.
So, needless to say, this Streeting fellah has impressed me. He has displayed the courage and enthusiasm only fresh battle recruits tend to show, but took down an old war-dog with his initial skirmishes. One up for the little man (accidentally ironic, given Lord Rose is quite vertically challenged).
So why am I telling you all this?
Why am I, a heartless working class Tory supporter, that left-wing-flabbergaster of the political spectrum, telling you this?
I’m telling you this because I believe, once the Labour Party gets sanity back and looks for a leader who can contest the 2020 General Election (or possibly 2025, given it might take Labour time to recover), they need look no further than Wes Streeting.
This guy should have an arm placed firmly around him by the Labour hierarchy, and he should be weaned towards becoming a serious leadership candidate.
I want UK democracy back. It requires a government, but it requires adequate opposition too. Both need to be at the top of their game, if the little man is to have any hope of progress. If Labour take the Tories down, they will have deserved to, but if not they need to get some sort of decent opposition in place to ensure the little man gets his corner fought (however misguidedly, at least the conversation is had).
Labour cannot seriously compete with the current ‘old guard’ at the helm, drastic change is required. At present, they can hardly field a candidate to compete with Jeremy Corbyn for leader, let alone reach out to the 40% disaffected Labour voters who favoured Brexit and have been left in the cold by both current Labour ‘factions’.
Wes Streeting will win some of this back. He will gain respect amongst voters who are not the sofa-munching rabid anarchists which Corbyn has roused from their mother’s basement. The bread and butter voters, those most in danger of voting elsewhere at any future elections, the key to any future gains the Labour party wish to make.
The guy is a straight-talker. He has ambition. His record is clean and his attendance figures prove him hard-working. He has already shown he is not scared to ask the tough ones, even if it goes against party policy.
Yes, some will call him a Blairite, in his outspoken criticism of Jeremy Corbyn, but I would disagree. Sure, he would be influenced by Blair, but consider his age and where he would have been in his political career when Blair was at his peak. He is merely flying with that flock at present as it offers the only way he sees to topple the toxic Labour leadership (as he sees it).
I do believe, however, this Streeting guy has done enough to display a tendency to do the right thing, not the popular thing. That will resonate, it will be seen as fresh, something the general public are crying out for since they tasted the freedom a referendum gave them.
Wes Streeting, if he progresses according to current potential, is the future leader Labour is looking for. Once this craziness tearing the Labour Party into two has run the course, Labour will have wounds to lick and a lot of bridges to mend. This man will mend those bridges. He’s a grafter, but a personable one. He’s young, might even be hot-headed a little, but he will be someone the party can unite behind.
I’m not saying he’s ready now, but I am saying get him ready Labour, you’re going to need him.