Alex White: A Fresh Voice for Labour
I have decided to enter the contest for the leadership of the Labour Party, and I am asking for your support and your vote. This is a decisive moment for our Party.
When we entered Government in 2011, we did so out of a sense of duty. We knew the country was bankrupt and we knew we would have to implement difficult measures to prevent complete collapse. Now, three years later, we can say with confidence that we have brought the country back from the brink. The economy is growing again. Speaking for myself, I am proud of that achievement and I stand over many of the choices we have had to make in getting to this point.
That patriotic duty is now done. We have done what we had to do in the face of an economic collapse which offered no other responsible choice. It is now time to move on. The time for cuts in public services and tax rises for people on average incomes is over.
To be clear. If you elect me as your leader, I will not stand over any significant cuts in spending in the two budgets which remain in the lifetime of the current government. Nor will I allow any significant tax changes or charges which will impact on people with average incomes. I am confident that we will still be able to meet our deficit target for 2015 but if we miss it by a few months, then so be it.
As a Party, we are in a tight corner and we are going to have to fight very hard to get ourselves out of it, to re-connect with people who have previously supported us, and to ensure that nobody is in any doubt what we stand for.
In the first instance we must raise our voice. We must speak up for ourselves but we must also relentlessly expose the facile nonsense that passes for Sinn Féin policy. We must rigorously challenge those who oppose everything and support nothing. And we must assert ourselves in Government.
I am committed to completing our term of Government. But, not at any cost. Labour, under my leadership, will co-operate with Fine Gael as equal partners. We have a mandate from twenty percent of the Irish people and we will not be taken for granted. I will not stand over a position where the Taoiseach looks to fire the Commissioner of the Gardaí without as much as a phone call to the leader of the Labour Party.
I will finish on a personal note. I am fully grounded in the Labour Party, our traditions, our history and our values. I am Labour to the core and I always will be. My experience of Government may not be as extensive as Joan’s, however I have been a public representative for ten years and I will bring a broad range of skills and expertise to the leadership. As Eamon said on the day he resigned we need a fresh voice at the microphone. With your support, I’ll be that fresh voice.
I look forward to meeting you soon.