Announcing his intention to run, he told his local party in Exeter:
“Labour did badly everywhere and in Wales and England outside London we went backwards against the Tories."
"Labour must and could win the next election, but only if it broadens its appeal by adopting sensible, centre-left politics which celebrate wealth creation and entrepreneurship as vital means of delivering social justice.
I know I face an uphill task getting enough nominations from fellow MPs to get on the ballot paper. That would be hard for anyone from a part of Britain with so few Labour colleagues.
But it’s exactly because I believe it is vital that we listen to and hear the voices of those members, candidates and defeated MPs from areas that are under-represented in parliament and where we must win again that I have decided to have a go.”
On his blog he commented
‘I seem to be writing pieces like this with monotonous regularity after crushing Labour election defeats nationally contrasting with record good results in Exeter.
Please, colleagues in the Labour movement and outside commentators, don't try to claim we lost because Labour wasn't radical, left wing or distinctive enough. Please don't force those of us, who are actually quite good at winning elections in Middle England, to go through those same old tired arguments of the 1970s and 80s. Surely, we learned the lessons forever in 1992: that a successful centre left Party in Britain wins from the centre left, not the left. Economic competence, combined with social justice. Without the first we can never deliver the second’.
In the recent election Ben increased his vote share by over 8% against the national trend, commanding the support of over 46% of the voters in Exeter. Exeter MP since 1997, he has overseen the transformation of Exeter into a modern vibrant successful city with an expanding economy. Being the main economic driver for the area, Exeter provides employment for many of the residents of the Newton Abbot constituency.
In a speech at the Progress Conference in London on Saturday he said;
“When launching my bid for deputy leader I had both trade unionists and business leaders alongside. Business in Exeter prefers Labour as Exeter Labour has always been pro-business.It's a total myth that business people are Tories and anti-Labour. They want a Labour that celebrates their success and we do.
Our organiser in Exeter is the best in the party - but no one from Labour has thanked him since. Winning again is not rocket science. It involves learning the right lessons and giving people hope and optimism. There can be no 'no go' areas as we must win in England to get a majority. 'We need to start listening to people who know how to win!'”
We wish Ben the best of luck in his campaign.