My letter and leaflet to Labour members this weekend

Below is my letter to all Labour Party members this weekend. You can also download my leaflet here (PDF).

Dear friend,

Over the next few days, your vote will not just decide our party’s next leader.

It will also determine whether we can shorten the life of this coalition government and win again – for millions of people who need a Labour government on their side.

When I decided to put myself forward I knew people would take time to judge me in my own right, not just as someone who was loyal to Gordon Brown or who the Tories love to hate.

So I relish the freedom I’ve had to put forward new ideas for the country including a graduate tax to replace top-up fees and new ideas to reform our party too, including a Diversity Fund to help those who are under-represented get selected.

But I haven’t let the campaign distract me from my number one duty as a Labour shadow cabinet minister – to expose the unfairness and economic madness of what the Government is doing to our country.

They are choosing to increase VAT, cut school building projects, end council housing as we know it, privatise the Post Office, break up the NHS, slash disability benefits and cut free school meals. And, like me, you know that those that will feel the pain the most will be the poorest, the most disadvantaged, the disabled and the elderly.

Those families need a Labour Party and a Labour leader who will fight tooth and nail to defend them and to end the life of this government as soon as possible.

People say I’m a fighter – and they’re right.

All my political life, I’ve fought for what I thought was fair and right, such as tax credits to tackle child poverty and funding for short breaks for disabled children and their families.

But when I thought we were about to do the wrong thing in government, I fought my corner too. I had disagreements with Gordon, like over the 10p tax. And saying we shouldn’t join the Euro might not have been very popular with a lot of the Labour cabinet at the time, including Tony Blair, but history shows it was the right decision to save jobs and support our economy.

Today, Labour needs a strong leader in command of the economic arguments. A leader who can argue credibly that the Tory-Lib Dem spending cuts and VAT increase will destroy jobs and risk a double-dip recession. A leader who can show the country a real alternative – based on a more sensible timetable for deficit reduction, fairer tax rises and a plan to boost jobs and growth.

There is an alternative – a credible and radical alternative.

We must be bold. It’s no good if we reach the next election and people can’t distinguish between David Cameron, Nick Clegg and our new leader.

But we must also be hard-headed. Radicalism isn’t enough if, on issues like crime, we lose touch with working people who felt they couldn’t support us this time.

Our party’s choice mustn’t be between being radical and being credible – or between going with our hearts or our heads. We should demand both.

The media and people in Westminster have been claiming for months it’s a two-horse race. But not a single member has cast their vote yet and you deserve a proper choice.

I’m fighting to win – because we need a leader who will stand up for what they believe in. One who will be an effective leader of the opposition and earn the electorate’s trust to be the next Prime Minister – and who has the strength and judgement to deliver credible and radical policies in government.

I hope you will consider putting me as your first preference. Together, let’s work to rebuild our party from the ground up, shorten the life of this Tory-Lib Dem government and win again for those who need a Labour government most.

Best wishes,

Ed Balls

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Posted August 28th, 2010 by Ed

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