I respect both Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith. You don't have to dislike one to like the other. Life is more complicated than this. Both are talented men with much to give. I'm sure many of us will agree with that. We now need to come together. Many are looking to us to do this.
Being fairly new to party politics, I hope this gives me a fresh perspective. I was proud to be elected a Labour councillor last year in my first campaign. Along with one of my colleagues, I'm the youngest councillor in our group here in Chesterfield. Indeed, I enjoyed being sent on a 'Young Councillor' course at the age of 33; an age I thought not so young any more! Although, I was involved with student politics as the BMA representative for my medical school, speaking out against the Iraq War in 2003 at BMA House in London.
I believe that only when Labour is united can we make positive changes to those who need it most, whether that be in education, the health service and opportunity. I was born and raised in one of the most deprived constituencies in the country, Bootle, Liverpool. Although having one of the lowest levels of participation in higher education, I was fortunate enough to go on and train to become a doctor, living and studying in London, Sheffield, Birmingham, the United States and Cuba. It was thanks to Labour policies that encouraged opportunity that allowed me a chance to do this. If we are not united, there will continue to be a whole generation of lost talent who not benefit from life chances Labour can offer in work, education and training. Education is increasingly more expensive and we now have the loss of university maintenance for the poorest students. Labour owes it to so many to unite to help them. We can be that credible alternative that gives hope.
Labour need to fight for our health service, our Party's greatest creation. As a GP and A&E doctor, I see daily the increasing pressure taking it's toll on patients and staff alike. All the evidence shows the health service is under unprecedented strain and I feel it faces a genuine existential crisis. We can do so much better. We can together be that united force to take the Conservatives to task on their failings. We should not be fighting each other but instead highlighting our brighter and better alternative. The whole NHS and our patients are depending on us.
Labour can build more homes and provide affordable housing. Labour can help grow the industry's of the future and create jobs and wealth. We can only do this and so much more if we are unified. The country can not trust us if we don't trust ourselves.
Next month we will discover who will be our Party leader. Most of us already know who that person will be, if we are really honest with ourselves. I think we need to think ahead now to ensure a Labour reproachment takes place. We need to reflect on what will happen next month to ensure we come back together as a united group where we can achieve so much more.
Call me naive, call me a Blairite, call me a Corbynista, but above all else call me Labour through and through. Like you, I want us to have the best possible chance to form a Labour Government. That way we have the chance to make a meaningful difference to all lives. An opportunity to put something in place that allows everyone to be encouraged & supported to realise their true potential. This is what Labour is all about, encouragement.
If we split next month because we are concerned one or the other candidates can't form a government, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and a tragic one at that. By dividing ourselves we become so much less that what we are & allow our worst fear to become manifest: that we are out of power for years and unable to help change society for the better. Why divide ourselves and allow this to happen? It is not necessary.
Never trust anyone who tells you they have all the answers. It is not possible. I don't pretend to have all the solutions but what I do believe though is that collectively we will have the answers. Let's come together and identify our areas of agreement and disagreement then work together to develop them further. Compromise on all sides is possible and is for the greater good. There are plenty of unity figures across our Party who can assist in achieving this. After all, as a talented Labour MP said, 'there is more that unites us than divides us'. In the spirit of this, let's sit down together next month and have a proper dialogue and work it all out, together, for the greater good.