Jo Cox was one of 10 new MPs who wrote a piece for the Observer newspaper on Sunday 3 January 2016 about the key issues facing Jeremy Corbyn – and how he might resolve them
Jo Cox: ‘We should not become simply a pressure group’
As someone who has worked with and for different types of pressure groups most of my adult life, I feel well-placed to judge what it feels like to be in one. And I’m sad to say I’m starting to get that feeling.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe these groups are key in changing the world for the better and the work they do is vital. Indeed, before I entered politics I spent my life working for pressure groups of one type or another (the Burma Campaign, Oxfam, NSPCC … the list goes on).But the Labour party is not and must not become just another pressure group. Its role is to be a potential party of government, to translate progressive demands and ideas into actionable policies that change lives. It should, of course, campaign and protest, come up with policies and conduct research but the thing that What sets it apart is its ability to win elections and to govern, and it is that on which it must be judged.
As a new MP I can already sense some of the negative attributes of being a pressure group creeping in: a tendency to focus on your own supporters at the expense of the public; a danger of only engaging with the like-minded; competition on the basis of how ideologically pure you are rather than how effective you have been; a slightly self-indulgent attitude of berating those in power without seriously engaging in the difficult trade-offs and decisions that must be made.
It’s still early days in Jeremy’s leadership and I want our party to stay united and to succeed. I want the energy he has harnessed to be fruitful. I want straight-talking politics and a Labour party willing to take risks. But I don’t want us to become a pressure group, shouting from the sidelines about the unfairness of the rules when our job should be to make them.