LABOUR leadership contender Yvette Cooper today urged the party not to become mired in its past woes.
Ms Cooper, who is shadow home secretary and MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford in West Yorkshire, said politics was “not keeping up” with changes in society.
The wife of ex-shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, who lost his seat earlier this month, Ms Cooper is one of four candidates who have confirmed they will seek to replace Ed Miliband. She kicked off her campaign today with a whistle-stop tour culminating in a speech at the Castleford Tigers’ stadium.
During an event at Tech City in London, she said: “Britain is changing fast - through technology, global competition, travel, trade and migration - changing jobs, changing family life, changing communities. Yet politics isn’t keeping up. In a digital world, Westminster politics is stuck in an analogue age. And Labour just got left behind.
“People want to feel ambitious for their future, not fearful about what tomorrow will bring. Yet, in the end, Labour couldn’t convince enough people we would deliver the jobs, business growth, opportunities or the security they wanted in future.
“We couldn’t reassure those who felt threatened by change, nor could we convince those who wanted to be optimistic for their children that we had a strong enough plan. In the end the messages of fear, of division and of blame were louder - they won, we lost.
“But the answer for Labour now isn’t going to be incremental change, just working harder, with a sticking plaster on tricky policies here or there
“Nor is it to swallow the Tories’ policies. They won’t deliver the progressive change, the strong growth, the fairer Britain we desperately need.
“And it would be the biggest mistake of all to seek comfort in past victories or defeats. We can’t get sucked back into replaying Miliband vs Miliband, Blair vs Brown, or trying the old campaign playbooks from the 1990s or the Noughties. Britain has moved on. We need answers for tomorrow, not yesterday.”
Fellow contender Andy Burnham said Labour did not celebrate enterprise in the last parliament and will not win an election without listening to business,
The shadow health secretary admitted his party should not have been running a deficit ahead of the financial crash, leaving Britain too exposed.
But he denied he was tainted by the past and said the contest should not be about factions.
He also said the Labour Party would “always have room” for Ed Miliband.
Mr Burnham said: “I don’t know what Ed’s plans are for the next few years. He is somebody who I respect greatly, who I am very close to.
“The Labour Party would always have room for him to contribute in whatever way he chose was right.
“But I have not spoken to him about any of those things.”
As well as selling Labour as a business-friendly party, Mr Burnham also sought to distinguish himself from the Conservatives.
He said: “Our plan is not a Tory plan because public spending cuts cannot bear all the brunt of deficit reduction.”
Asked after his speech whether he would back welfare cuts, he said benefits should not be “indiscriminately lumped together”.
He added: “People thought we were right to take a stand on the Bedroom Tax, for instance.
“There is a more sophisticated debate to be had, about in-work benefits...”
Asked about the Government’s plan to extend Right to Buy to housing association tenants, Mr Burnham said he had “serious misgivings”.
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh and shadow health minister Liz Kendall have also thrown their hats in the ring.