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The Labour Leadership Should Be Won on What Candidates Are Running for - Not Who or What They Are Against

20/08/2015 12:53 BST | Updated 20/08/2016 10:59 BST

Only about one in three of those eligible to vote in this Labour leadership election were members of the Party before May. This huge surge in support is really encouraging and while it is a sign of the disappointment felt by so many at the scale of our defeat, more importantly it reflects a keenness to be involved as the Party and the country face the future.

Election campaigns do invigorate and clarify, but in recent weeks we have at times given the impression that we are arguing with each other rather than taking the Tories to task or debating what Labour needs to do to hold true to its values and win. It's about giving leadership and I believe the best candidate to do that and to bring us together as a stronger Labour Party at the next General Election is Andy Burnham.

Andy has sought to reach out across the Party and has been absolutely right to do so, just as he has also been right to highlight the policy differences he has with Jeremy Corbyn on the economy and public services, and on international affairs. Andy sees how the world is fast changing before our eyes and knows that we have to maintain alliances to secure influence and ensure our security.

Jeremy is a decent and principled man who has ignited interest in the Labour Party amongst thousands of people across the country. He is also a committed campaigning backbencher. These are great qualities but the Leader we need now has to be more than that. He or she has to be able to unite the broad church that has always been the Labour Party, look to the future, help us to build a progressive majority against the Tories in the country and lead us to victory in 2020. And that's what Andy will do best.

He has run an overwhelmingly positive campaign with big ideas: bringing social care into the NHS, taking the railways into public ownership, replacing tuition fees with a graduate tax, championing an ambitious house-building programme, and handing back more power to local communities. This election should be won on what the candidates are running for; not on who or what they are against.

If we end up as a divided Opposition, our country might face a long period of Tory government. That's why we must unite behind Andy Burnham so we can work together to win the public's trust and confidence and so put Labour's values at the service of the country once again.