For the first time in 13 years, Labour has been given the opportunity to revamp the party from the top down.
It is an offer we must grab with both hands. Not since the 2007 deputy leadership contest have we had the chance to stop, take stock, look at the party and make changes to the way we work.
I put myself forward for the job because I believed we needed to offer the party someone different; someone who wasn’t part of the ruling elite of the last Labour government.
What would Labour be saying if we could only offer candidates who had been part of the old administration? What kind of change is that?
All my fellow contenders worked closely with one or both of the party’s former leaders. That is not to their detriment and many see this as an advantage.
But we need to offer an alternative, another voice to the debate.
I am that alternative.
Voters at the polling stations asked us to acknowledge the mistakes of the past. Would they be satisfied if we then elected those who were complicit to some of the decisions that lost our party votes at the last election?
I am not saying I have all the answers as leader.
But I did double my majority at the last election, the only candidate on the ballot who did. It is because of this that I can say this with confidence – I am in touch with the ordinary Labour Party supporters.
I also have the longest history with the party. I am the only one who can truly say they have come up from the grass roots. I was first a councillor, then an elected member of the national executive, and finally a former trade union official, before becoming an MP 23 years ago.
There should be no reason a candidate like me should not stand to become Labour’s next leader, and have the chance to be successful.
We do need a leader who can work in opposition and to bring us back to power. But we also need a leader who can offer a different perspective and breathe new life back into the party. I believe I can do both these things. In particular I believe that I am the candidate to rebuild our links with the trade unions.
The odds have been stacked against me in this contest. I am not a former special adviser, I am not a former minister, and I am not the Westminster insiders’ candidate.
But those who have watched my political career know that I am never afraid to speak my mind.
Because I have never been afraid to do this, I have made all the right choices on important issues, such as Iraq, tuition fees and the 10p tax.
I also want to bring troops home from Afghanistan, scrap Trident and close the gap between rich and poor. I would introduce a wealth tax, higher bank taxes and a financial transactions tax.
I also want to reform trade union legislation in order to restore a level playing field between workers and bosses. I want to stop employers taking vexatious injunctions to stop lawful strikes. And I want to end the situation where courts can strike down lawful ballots because of technicalities which would not have affected the outcome of the ballot.
I want to end the new Labour years where the assumption was “private sector good, public sector bad,” I will put an end to further privatisation in the public sector and bring the railways back into public ownership.
I have consistently made a stand on civil liberties issues. I was against ID cards and the retention of innocent people’s DNA on a government database. I fought, and won the fight, against 90 days detention without trial. I called years ago for the end of the detention of children in immigration detention centres.
These are all now issues that we need to reclaim from the Tories. It should never have fallen to them to scrap ID cards.
But the recent Con-Dem budget has revealed the true intentions of the coalition government – to make the poor poorer and the rich even richer.
The measures they announced are nothing more than a stealth attack on the poorest in society. These are class-based economic policies.
It will fall to the next leader of the Labour Party to stand up to these cuts and show the coalition for what it is – the same old Tories.
I will be the one who stands up and says that one man’s public expenditure cut is another woman’s job loss. It is unfair that we should be taking money from the pockets of the poorest people to appease private sector workers in the City.
At the moment 80 per cent of the money to plug the deficit will come from slashing public expenditure. Only 20 per cent will come from tax rises.
These public expenditure cuts are a “double whammy” for ordinary people. They will not only lose their services, but hundreds and thousands will lose public-sector jobs.
If that isn’t bad enough, the cuts also put in peril over a million private-sector jobs that depend on government contracts.
These cuts are not just unfair but politically illiterate. They risk tipping us into a serious recession. And the Lib Dems have gone against everything they ever stood for in the election by backing the 20 per cent VAT rise, or the “tax bombshell” as they described it.
Labour needs to be the party that listens to voters again. We need the change that people want to see, not another unfulfilled promise.
My inclusion on this ballot means we can open up the debate to a whole new section of the party who haven’t before had a candidate to get behind.
Voters were unhappy with Labour before the election and want to see the party take a new direction.
I can be the leader to take us in that direction.
This opportunity has provided a platform for a full and frank discussion – something I feel, as I’m sure other party members do too, is long overdue.
Let’s make sure we don’t waste it.
Go to Diane4Leader for more information on Diane’s campaign.