OPINION: Karin Smyth MP on the Labour leadership election 2020

(Newspaper column as seen in the South Bristol Voice in February 2020)

We’ve had some time to reflect on the General Election result and work is underway in the Labour Party to select a new leader and address some of the issues which saw us losing the trust of many voters elsewhere in the country.

I’m thankful that you returned me as your MP and that Bristol South continues to want and vote for a Labour government. I’ve spent the last month or so evaluating the work I do for Bristol South and where I focus my efforts and, following conversations on the doorstep during the election campaign, what else is needed here. You can read more about this on my website, social media channels and in future columns.

You may have seen from my social media that I’m backing Keir Starmer for Leader of the Labour Party. Lots of you have asked me about this so I thought it would be useful to elaborate some more.

Both Keir and I were first elected as MPs in 2015 and I’ve worked closely with him since – first as his Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Shadow Brexit Team and more recently as Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland. He’s joined me here in Bristol South several times, helping me with election campaigns.

I’ve seen first-hand what a good leader of teams he is. And how well-regarded on the doorstep he is by people here in Bristol South.

I think that both Angela Rayner and Dawn Butler would make excellent Deputy Leaders but with Angela already across the line in terms of nominations, I decided to nominate Dawn.

The ballot opens later this month (Feb 2020) in which Labour Party members will vote for their preferred candidates. While I’d like to see Keir take the reins, I’m optimistic that whoever wins will rise to the challenge and take the fight to Boris Johnson and the Tories.

We have a great opportunity to form a strong, united opposition to help prevent the relentless cuts to public services continuing to hit Bristol South. I will continue to be your voice in Parliament and work with people and organisations here in Bristol to address this.

Please do join me at the annual South Bristol Jobs & Apprenticeships Fair I run with City of Bristol College and Bristol City Council. It takes place from 11am-3pm on Thursday 27 February 2020 at the South Bristol Skills Academy in Hengrove and brings together employers and training providers with school leavers and jobseekers. It’s free to attend – just pop along on the day! Hope to see you there.