‘We must prove we’re up to the job’ - South Yorkshire MP John Healey on his deputy leader bid

John Healey, MP
John Healey, MP
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Two South Yorkshire MPs will now go head to head to become Labour’s next deputy leader after John Healey threw his hat into the ring.

The MP for Wentworth and Dearne said he had not originally intended to stand but had been ‘dismayed at how narrow and shallow the debate has been so far’ after Labour’s heavy defeat.

Former housing minister Mr Healey said he had been encouraged by colleagues to add his name to an already-crowded field - which includes Don Valley MP Caroline Flint.

Mr Healey said in a first person piece he wrote about the decision: “Labour suffered a terrible defeat at the election.

“Bluntly, the public said we weren’t up to the job. We’ve now got to prove that we are.

“That’s why I’ve decided to run for Labour’s new deputy leader.

“We need grown-up opposition to the Tories on behalf of the 9.3million people who voted for us – and to show we’re a Government in-waiting to win over those who didn’t.

“Labour lost because people weren’t convinced we had a sure-footed plan – security as well as change – for a country ill at ease with ourselves and our place in the world.

“Our leadership debates must deal with the concerns of the country, not just the problems of the party.”

Mr Healey was first elected in 1997 and held his Wentworth and Dearne seat with a 13,800 majority at the general election earlier this month.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who also represented a South Yorkshire constituency in Doncaster North, stood down from the position after the Conservatives won an overall majority and Labour lost all but one seat in Scotland.

Other names down for deputy leader are Stella Creasy and Ben Bradshaw.

Mr Healey said that the party now needed to offer a ‘vision for Britain’ by ‘leading as a force for good’ within Europe, ‘embracing’ international obligations like military and aid spending, and investing to create good jobs.

He added: “We need to make a generational shift of power to the regions so we create and spread wealth fairly across our divided country.

“We need to convince parents that a Labour government will make sure their kids can afford a decent home, by getting councils and private developers building again - as I did as Labour’s last housing minister.

“I know as a campaigner for 30 years that change doesn’t come easily.

“But I have high hopes for Britain and Labour which I want others to share, and as Labour’s deputy leader I want to help lead that change.”

The new leader and deputy will be announced in September.