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I'm Determined Labour Can Win Again. This Leadership Election Must Be the Start of Making That Happen

23/05/2015 05:57 BST | Updated 22/05/2016 10:59 BST

As the Labour Party starts to come up for air after our deep disappointment of 8 May, we have to face some hard truths. The political strategy of the Parliament failed. And we cannot repeat the same mistakes again. But nor can we give in to despair, write off the next election as we flail about, or give in to the Tories - as I've heard too many people starting to suggest. Those who depended most on a Labour Government have already been let down, we cannot let them down again. This party needs to pick ourselves up and start getting on with an urgent plan to change, to rebuild, and to win not just in 2020 but next year's elections too.

One thing is clear. We cannot repeat the same failed strategy again. We lost votes in many directions. In our target seats, the Tories increased their votes and so did Ukip. Too many swing voters and traditional voters chose anyone but us.

The assumption that the Lib Dem vote would collapse in our favour was simply wrong. Though some switched to Labour in the cities, in market towns and suburbs many more went straight past us, the Tory voters we needed stayed put and our traditional support became thinner.

Bluntly, not enough people trusted us with their future. Not enough people were convinced we could do the job.

The mountain we now have to climb is high. But there are some who mutter that we should give up. That there needs to be blood on the floor for the Labour Party to rise again. That we should swing our party far to the right or far to the left, then fight it out from first principles all over again. They believe we simply can't return to office in under a decade. They advocate, not a 2020 strategy, but a vague plan to win in 2025.

But that's no good for Labour, for Britain or for those who depend on progressive change. We can't fight and win by remaining a narrow party, we have to reach out. We don't need a 2025 strategy - and even a 2020 strategy isn't good enough. We need a 2016 strategy, a plan to win next year - starting with the Mayor of London, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament.

Renewal won't be driven by abstract Westminster speeches but by the new ideas and innovation from our party and beyond across the country. And from the energy of our activists, members and supporters who worked so hard before this election and have so many ideas to offer. Acerbic critiques and the rapid washing of hands won't make Labour win again. Nor will doing what we've done before but shouting that little bit louder. We can't repeat the narrow approach of the last five years. But nor should we think the answer is to swallow the Tory manifesto instead. Neither approach will get us the Labour government the country needs in 2020.

There is no comfort blanket for us either in Labour victories or Labour defeats of the past. The world has changed. Labour wins by having the best answers for the future. On where the new jobs will come from. On how we'll make sure every child can be ambitious for the future with the chance to get on. On how we fight injustice and widening inequality. On how our communities can stay strong not divided in the face of so much change. On how our public services can reform and keep up. And on how everyone can be part of Labour's vision.

So, we need to draw on the very best ideas and innovations from across our Party - in our town halls, city halls, assemblies and parliaments all over Britain, from community groups, businesses, charities, public servants, and from across the globe too.

Think of how the Labour Welsh government pioneered Jobs Growth Wales, an extraordinary programme to get Wales back to work.

Think of how Labour cities are driving the ideas for the North of England and the Midlands to rebalance our economy.

And imagine what a Labour Mayor of London will do when we finally throw the Tories out of London's City Hall. So let's call George Osborne's bluff. He's declared he's prepared to devolve power like never before. Well, we already have plans and ideas based on the brilliant work of Andrew Adonis. Let's seize the government's offer and demand real devolution all over Britain to put power in the hands of Labour local government. And let's go further and put power in the hands of communities too. That's how we change Britain - not by obsessing with the past, but instead focusing on the future.

In a fast changing world, where the balance of power and wealth is shifting east to Asia, where technology is wiping out the routine jobs of the past, families want to know how we're going to make it in the years to come. Not as an also ran. But as a world-beater.

So I'll be campaigning to become Labour leader in all parts of the country, drawing on the views of all parts of our Party and listening to those who have turned away from Labour, as well as those who stayed with us. We won't win 2020 through speeches or dinners in Westminster, we'll win in the sports halls and living rooms, offices and canteens, working men's clubs and school gates across the country. And I want this debate - about our party, our country - to be as wide and as engaging as possible. That means as many people as possible involved in the leadership election, not just a closed down or polarised contest.

I've been part of our Labour movement since I marched as a child with my dad under the union banners on the Peoples March for Jobs in the eighties, through to bringing in Sure Start or improving cancer care as a Labour government minister. I know both the great talent and strength of our party to refresh and renew, but also the real despair of long years in opposition, powerless to help people get on. We cannot go there again.

This is a real turning point for the Labour Party and the country - a do or die moment. No one should be giving up on a Labour Government in 2020. I'm determined we can win again. And this leadership election - focused on the future - must be the start of making that happen.

Yvette Cooper is shadow home secretary and the Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford