Rosamund McCarthy: Ed Miliband is the right person to lead Labour

The former third sector minister is a leader, a thinker and - most importantly - a listener, says our columnist

Rosamund McCarthy
Rosamund McCarthy

The voluntary sector is busy adapting to the challenges presented by a coalition government. Under the previous Conservative administration, many charities became isolated. Shut out from the debate, they shrilled loudly from the sidelines. This time, charities are forging links with both parts of the coalition - and in a time of cuts and radical restructuring, this is crucial.

I am fortunate to be part of a law firm that has active members of all three main political parties. Andrew Phillips, the founder of Bates Wells & Braithwaite, was former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown's adviser and is now a Liberal Democrat peer.

My tribal affiliation to the Labour Party often leads to challenges from Conservative and Liberal Democrat colleagues. I am excited, exasperated and humbled by our disputations, and with some of my colleagues it has all been going on for nearly 20 years now.

But although exploring links with the coalition is vital, the sector should not ignore Labour. The coalition may not last a full term and who knows who will win the next election? That is why Labour's leadership election is important. I have been helping Ed Miliband in his campaign to become the next leader of the Labour Party. Through my own experience of Ed in his time as third sector minister, I know him to be a leader, a thinker and, perhaps most importantly, a listener.

The other candidates are also known to the sector: for example, David Miliband's first job was at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and Diane Abbott supports a number of charities. However, a leadership contest is about the bigger picture. On the core values of fairness, equality and social justice, Ed Miliband is the right person for the job. On Iraq and civil liberties, two issues that leave many Labour supporters hanging their heads in shame, Ed has been honest about what went wrong.

Whether it is supporting a High Pay Commission or proposing that half of the shadow cabinet are women, Ed has taken the lead. On the big society agenda, he has come out with the most cogent demolition. My Conservative colleagues argue that the big society is not a cover for cuts, but a profound challenge to a dangerous dependency culture. If you disagree with this proposition and have a vote in Labour's election, you have a clear choice. For the country, the sector and for Labour, Ed Miliband is the best candidate.

Rosamund McCarthy, a partner in law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, writes in a personal capacity

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