THE BLOG

Labour Can Look Forward to Moving Forward in 2016

10/12/2015 18:32 GMT | Updated 10/12/2016 10:12 GMT

In the last week-end of the campaign, I and hundreds of others were out in the rain campaigning for Labour's candidate Jim McMahon in the Oldham West and Roydon by-election.

The whole Labour family came to Oldham in the course of the campaign: the leader of the Scottish Labour Kezia Dugdale; Members of Parliament; councillors and activists from all over the country. There were also four coach loads of supporters from Momentum, who Jim McMahon thanked for their positive contribution.

London based commentators and MPs took pleasure in claiming that the by-election was a "referendum" on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. They said confidently that the majority would drop or we could even lose. Well, if it was a referendum on the new leader, it was one he won handsomely. Not only did we win in Oldham, but we won with an increased share of the vote.

The combination of an excellent local candidate and Labour's clear campaign messages led to this result. As Jeremy Corbyn put it, Jim McMahon "ran a great campaign, focusing on bringing jobs to Oldham and giving every child the best opportunities" and the result was "a clear demonstration that Labour is the party working people trust."

In terms of the national issues, the key to this result - and good early opinion polling for next year's London mayoral race - is that Labour is now more clearly identified as a party that will stand up for the living standards of the overwhelming majority of people against the Tories' ideologically driven austerity.

Labour has opposed the Conservative attacks on working people on issue after issue - from the draconian trade union bill to attacks on the welfare state to the ill-advised proposed cuts to tax credits - and started to shift the terms of the debate.

As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has put it, "Labour has demonstrated in the last few weeks how extremely effective an opposition it is becoming," and in particular, "We led the campaign to force George Osborne to reverse the cuts to tax credits and the police."

Additionally, Oldham also showed that to defeat Ukip you don't have to adapt to their agenda on immigration.

This Saturday marks three months since Jeremy Corbyn and Labour's new leadership team was elected and our party has never had more enthusiastic members and supporters - let's harness this energy and make 2016 a year of positive campaigning.

My constituents and Britain as a whole needs a Labour Party that together takes the opposition to the Tories and deliver a Labour government the country so desperately needs; an equal and fair society with housing for all, a world class national health system, plus well-paid and high-skilled jobs. Let's make it happen.

Diane Abbott is the Labour MP for Hackney North and the shadow international development secretary