A short family holiday will prevent me from participating in the North Norfolk Labour Party’s meeting held to discuss the Leadership and Deputy Leadership. We all vote as individuals but the Constituency Party has the option of making a nomination in support of its chosen candidates for both these positions.
At least one of the members, my good friend Tim Bartlett, will put the case for not exercising the option. His argument is that Harriet Harman, who is doing a good job, should continue in the role while the Party undertakes a far-reaching debate on future policy. I entirely agree with him. We need a deeper debate not a quick fix. I have not determined my vote but I have identified my favourite candidates. Unfortunately they are not standing.
For Leader I would choose Pope Francis. This follows his excellent encyclical, On care for our common home, in which he wrote, amongst other things:
‘the foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned’.
those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly concerned with masking the problems or concealing the symptoms’
Pope Francis recognised a problem, articulated his position clearly, and was not afraid to point to the hard choices that needed to be made when seeking a solution. The Pope’s statement was not designed to appeal exclusively to any one section of society; it was not a call for mobilisation of the very poor. It is crafted to appeal to anyone who cares. It was a moral statement based on observed facts.
His candidature would need to be balanced by someone younger who would appeal to a different audience and who holds more progressive social views. On this basis how about Charlotte Church? Here I am biased. She comes from my home town of Cardiff and was passionate in her support of the 2005 Welsh Rugby Grand Slam team (or at least one key member of that team). More relevantly she has recently spoken at anti-austerity demonstrations, announcing that she would happily pay tax at a rate of 70% if it would protect public services. She has also defended herself as a prosecco socialist. Not drinking the stuff myself, I can best assume that this is the modern equivalent of a champagne socialist and, if so, this only underlines her appeal to a younger age group.