In their own words: Labour leadership contenders

The five candidates talk about the role they think the voluntary sector should play in society


- DIANE ABBOTT, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington - 'Stable long-term funding'

Diane AbbottThe voluntary sector builds on the best traditions of working-class solidarity and self-help. It has often proved to be more flexible and innovative than state-run services. It has drawn on the talent and social solidarity of black and ethnic minority citizens. Where the voluntary sector has led, mainstream service providers have followed. I would want to see a voluntary sector working alongside the state with stable long-term funding, doing the innovative work that it has always done.


- ED BALLS, Shadow Secretary of State for Education - 'Dynamic partnerships'

Ed BallsUnder Labour, the third sector flourished, but I'm worried that the coalition's reckless cuts will sharply reverse this trend. I want third sector organisations to be at the heart of dynamic partnerships with the public sector because, as children's secretary, I often saw how much they bring. They need more security; longer-term funding agreements must become the norm. The right to campaign must also be respected because this strengthens the sector and our democracy.


- ANDY BURNHAM, Shadow Secretary of State for Health - 'Grass-roots connections'

Andy BurnhamThere are two threats posed to the third sector by the coalition: public sector cuts and David Cameron's big society. The first will put increased pressure on the services voluntary organisations provide, while the second will expect them to take on more, and with no extra funding. The Labour Party that I lead will work alongside community groups. Not only will this help to improve those areas, it will also help to ensure Labour never again loses touch with its grass-roots support.


- DAVID MILIBAND, Shadow Foreign Secretary - 'Stronger communities'

David MilibandI fully support expanding the role of third sector organisations in the delivery of public services - but, unlike David Cameron, I don't believe third sector should replace public sector. The state can't solve every problem on its own and we need stronger communities and people to take responsibility for themselves and the world around them. The big society might sound good, but it rings hollow alongside cuts to the very public funding that so many voluntary groups rely on.


- ED MILIBAND, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change - 'Ability to reach out'

Ed MilibandToo often in government, we propose top-down solutions without listening to the people and organisations already working on solutions. As leader, I would ensure third sector organisations were listened to - both at a national and local level. From my time as Minister for the Third Sector, I know of many examples where the sector's innovation, user engagement and ability to reach out has helped to deliver Labour policies - for example, the New Deal and working with young offenders.

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