I hope that the Labour Leadership campaign will bring real choice to the party members. A wide field of candidates benefits us all and allows us to debate the issues, whether they be the economy, education, employment, taxation or immigration. An open discussion is the only way that members will know exactly where each candidate stands on the issues that matter to them.
In exactly the same way that no sensible person would blindly agree with everything their party does, I do not expect that one candidate would have absolutely everything an individual member wants. This is why the leadership hustings are vital to the process and why I would urge all members to try and attend at least one, so that they can find the candidate who best represents their views.
I am delighted that the contest for a new Leader has opened up debate within the party. This is such a positive step and demonstrates that we are indeed a broad church with members as diverse as Tony Benn and Tony Blair (as someone highlighted to me on Formspring). In exactly the same way that a successful relationship requires give and take and acceptance of differences, as members of the Labour party, we can also respect the diverse opinions whilst celebrating the common beliefs that have kept us together for so many years.
Whoever our new leader is, it is essential that he or she (however remote that possibility may be) acknowledges and encourages the input of the membership. Consultation and inclusion will ensure that members believe that being on the "inside" is worth it - that they have a direct influence on the direction the party takes. I have spoken to so many former members, who said they left because they felt unwanted and disenfranchised. If we are to reach out to those people, who once stood shoulder to shoulder with us, we have to demonstrate that we have learned from our past mistakes in this regard. This will also enable us to reconnect with the voters who turned away from us in the recent election.
The direction our party takes from this point on should be determined by a strong leader, who understands the importance of listening. As I recently commented on Twitter, "We do not want a manager, we want a voice", a strong leader will not be frightened to give us one.