Three reasons why Clive Lewis deserves to be on the Labour leadership ballot

Clive Lewis
Ed Sykes

Labour’s Clive Lewis is campaigning to be party leader. And while he may not be the highest profile candidate on the left of the party, there are three key reasons why Labour MPs should give him a place in the leadership race.

Lewis claims to be “a socialist from the same broad tradition of the party” as current leader Jeremy Corbyn, but is unique in putting certain issues at the forefront of his campaign. For example, he insists on:

  1. Reforming Britain’s democracy, in part via a change to its disproportional voting system.
  2. Reforming party democracy.
  3. Media reform.

He would also continue a number of Corbyn-era policies like the green industrial revolution, public investment, and internationalism.

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1) Reforming democracy

Lewis has called his pledge for electoral reform “the litmus test of Labour’s survival”, stressing that:

Labour should have committed itself to changing the voting system decades ago

As former Labour candidate Fran Boait wrote recently, he’s “the only candidate putting electoral reform front and centre of his campaign”.

Britain’s current voting system (‘First Past the Post’) saw the Conservatives get around 43% of votes but about 56% of all MPs in December’s election. Labour (and other parties), meanwhile, would have won more seats in a more proportional system. A recent poll showed that 76% of Labour Party members now believe the party should back calls for a more proportional electoral system. And Lewis has been at the forefront in demanding change for some time.

He has also spoken out about the House of Lords and the monarchy, calling for public consultation:

2) Reforming the Labour Party

Lewis is seeking to reform Labour’s internal democratic structures, and its relationship with progressive forces outside the party too.

Regarding the former, he has insisted that:

Corbyn’s first promise as leader was never fulfilled. The party was never democratised on the scale or to the extent that members were led to expect – they were never empowered to campaign, select candidates or determine policy on the scale that was required. This must now change.

He has spoken specifically about Labour’s decline in Scotland, saying:

At the same time, he wants Labour to express greater solidarity with forces outside the party. As he’s stressed:

For years, I’ve championed the need to build progressive alliances both inside and outside the Labour Party, to construct the broadest coalition of people to work together on issues we can agree on. The global rise of the far right is facilitated in part through their exceptional organisation. Progressive forces in the UK need to modernise and do the same.

And he’s promised:

I would prioritise building these alliances and putting aside our futile tribalism.

He says Labour must “modernise or die”, adding:

I’m standing because I see a party in crisis and democracy in crisis

3) Media revolution

The establishment media played a key role in defeating Corbyn. And Lewis is fully aware of the need to reform the media, having worked as a journalist himself in the past. He has reserved particular criticism for the BBC. In 2018, he said:

Over the last three decades I believe that the BBC’s independence has slowly been diminished, its programme making increasingly commercialised, and its editorial culture [has become] increasingly conservative.

And he has stressed that the current media environment – where a small handful of powerful corporations dominate – serves to protect the economic and political establishment.

Labour must give Lewis a platform

Lewis is also an army veteran, although he’s “sceptical about Trident renewal” and committed to tackling the “root causes” of conflicts (i.e. injustice and capitalism). As Boait stressed, meanwhile, he would actively tackle the right’s scapegoating of immigrants and all-too-common reliance on racist dog whistles. And he has been strong on the climate emergency:

Lewis currently lacks enough support from Labour MPs to participate in the leadership contest. And there are a couple of past controversies which have long been resolved but may put them off. But if Labour wants to remain relevant as a political force, it desperately needs to tackle the issues of democracy in the country, the party, and the media. So putting Lewis in the race is an absolute must.

Featured image via BBC

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  • Show Comments
    1. Here is a fourth reason why Lewis merits consideration.

      Quoting from Wikipedia – [ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_Lewis_%28politician%29 ]

      ” In April 2015, Lewis commented in an interview for the New Statesman (in jest), in response to a question on whether he was taking his upcoming victory for granted, he would only lose if he was “caught with [his] pants down behind a goat with Ed Miliband at the other end”. ”

      My only objection to this is that Lewis chose to apologise.

      Whoever Labour’s next leader is to be, it ought be someone untainted by association with ‘New’ Labour neo-liberalism and propensity for corruption. That should not debar candidates around during the ‘Blair’ political obscenity who were not drawn into the circle of perfidy. For instance Mr Corbyn was among a number of honourable people who retained personal integrity. Lewis’s generation of MP has not been tested against temptation but a sense of humour bodes well.

    2. Another point in favour of Lewis: he served in the armed force (yes only army reserve, but still armed forces) and completed a 3 months tour in Afghanistan. Therefore, if he promotes peace and opposes war, he cannot be accused of “not liking his country” nor being a coward. The part of the electorate who are normally right leaning, wanting a “strong” leader might be attracted by this.

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