By Emily Thornberry, MP
We all started off the year with such high hopes. Islington Labour campaigned for a Labour victory in the General Election in May, not only here in Islington, but also in key seats all over London, and right across the country.
We really felt that it was time to get rid of The Coalition, which had done so much damage to local government, inflicted such unnecessary pain on our National Health Service, and cut the real incomes of the poorest families, and we believed the public was with us.
However, it was not to be. On election night, at our count in the Sobel Centre, I struggled with really mixed emotions: the huge pile of votes for Jeremy and me were personally very affirming (particularly given the tabloid press campaign against me) and yet, as the television announced result after result, it was quite clear that the chances of a Labour victory were slipping away. In the end, it was even worse than anyone could have imagined: the Tories gained an overall majority. It was all very well for Paddy Ashdown to make a promise to eat his hat – a broken LibDem promise, of course – but many of us felt that our hearts were broken.
Labour then went through a rocky patch of self-examination, but most of us have since picked ourselves up, pulled thousands of new people into the party, and elected Jeremy as our leader. What we need to do now is to build on Jeremy’s strengths and commitment, and shape ourselves into an effective opposition and a convincing future party of government.
I am sure we can do it. We have much more in common than that which divides us. We need to focus on the key Labour values of fairness and compassion; we need to defend the poor and vulnerable, both here and across the world; and we need to stand up for justice.
The next step is giving Sadiq our best support. Having a Labour Mayor of London will make a real difference to people’s lives and show there is another way. Let’s work together to ensure London is a Labour city in 2016.