Covid-19 Outbreak: Suspend the Labour Leadership contest

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It has become clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis unlike any this nation has confronted in at least a generation. It is a crisis that demands the full attention of the party’s membership, the labour movement, PLP and party bureaucracy.

Under these circumstances, the leadership campaign has, in effect, ground to a halt. Candidates have begun to demobilise their activists to divert the membership’s energy and attention towards the urgent needs of Britain’s communities. In the best traditions of the labour movement, party members are volunteering in mutual aid groups, food banks and other community initiatives.

Public meetings relating to the leadership contest have also rightly been suspended. These forums are vital to the proper functioning of party democracy, and without them, the membership are unable to scrutinise each candidate’s vision for the future of the country.

We are waking up to a world spinning on a different and unfamiliar axis. Media figures and conservative politicians are publicly admitting the urgent need to institute the policies set out in Labour’s 2019 manifesto. Now is not the time to dismantle the shadow cabinet and unstitch the policy platform that this country is crying out for.

For the national interest, we call on the Labour Party’s PLP and membership to work together to hold the government of Boris Johnson to account. We do not have the luxury of retreating into an inward-looking debate among ourselves. Over the coming months, we must work together, as a party, to fight for our communities.