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Labour's Moderates Need to Understand Jeremy Corbyn

17/09/2015 21:02 | Updated 17 September 2016

Last Monday I attended the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which was addressed for the first time by the new Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn. I felt he was largely well-received, and he explicitly stated his desire to reach out to those colleagues who hadn't supported him.

Afterwards I went to the Labour Whips office to inform the Chief Whip that, whilst I would be supporting the new leadership team as a Labour MP, I recognised it was unlikely Jeremy would want me to serve on his frontbench. I therefore offered to resign as Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change.

To my surprise I was asked to reconsider and remain part of the Labour frontbench team. This was not something that I had considered might occur. Jeremy and I are both very much Labour people, but we are from opposite sides of the Party.

However, like a lot of people I have been taken aback by the incredible level of enthusiasm Jeremy's victory has generated. People are joining Labour in quite astounding numbers - nearly 30,000 more since the weekend alone. Labour now has more members than every other political party combined. I don't think all of these people, or the existing members who voted for Jeremy, share 100% of his views either. But I do understand why they voted for him - hope. Jeremy, in his willingness to say, and do, things differently, is a reminder that Labour is always at its best when people believe it is a genuine vehicle for change.

As hard as it for someone like me to admit, many Labour members have come to believe that the moderate wing of the Party only cares about winning. They believe we have lost our idealism, that we no longer want to dream dreams about what kind of country Britain could be. That shouldn't be the case, but it is.

I have never lost my idealism in politics. I believe it is offensive that the life chances of British children are largely determined before they even set foot in school, or that our economy is still so dominated by the City and the South East, and that our transport networks in the North are not fit for purpose. When people in my constituency tell me they are working two jobs, but are still reliant on housing benefit or food banks to get by, I know it's wrong. Our levels of fuel poverty are a disgrace, social care is chronically underfunded, buying a home is impossible for millions of people, and we are building up a terrible legacy of health problems because we won't regulate the food industry properly or guarantee young people sporting opportunities. And don't get me started on our divisive electoral system, or the national scandal that is the House of Lords.

The left and right of the Labour Party should always be debating how best to solve these problems, but there should never be any doubt that we are united in our determination to solve them.

That's why, when the Leader of the Labour Party asked me to serve, I accepted.

I will be Labour's shadow minister for transport, working under the brilliant Lilian Greenwood MP. Transport has also been a big interest of mind and I have done a lot of campaigning in my constituency in transport issues. With so many pressing issues on the agenda - the future of the railways, HS2, airport expansion, the road network, cycling and electric vehicles, I'm looking forward to be serving the Labour Party and the country in this role.

Jonathan Reynolds is the Labour and Cooperative MP for Stalybridge and Hyde