The Labour leadership X factor

I have refrained from commenting much on the Labour leadership. I have always thought it a two person race between the brothers. David is clearly the front runner, but I just feel Ed might steal it, given his sharper movement to the left.

Last night’s “debate” on Channel 4 did not do Labour any favours. The candidates were all frustrated by the questions on Blair’s legacy and let their frustration show. They have to get used to the legacy issues, as they are an important part of the new Leader’s job. Any party has to decide what to fight and defend and what to criticise or ignore from a past Leader’s inheritance. Mr Blair’s impact on Labour was large, so there will be plenty of questions for many years. Only Diane Abbott looked comfortable on the topic of Blair, as she proudly reminded viewers of her major disagreements with the more contentious things Mr Blair did.

None of them managed to use a fairly free form discussion to get over a new vision of a Labour Britain. Brother David performed best, seeking to show that he could start to bring together the squablling bunch by fondly praising the better statements of his noisy charges. On a day when Mr Blair sensationally backed much of the Coalition’s economic programme the rest struggled to say something that was both distinctive and convincing. So most of them retreated to the Labour comfort zones of higher taxes, soak the rich and delay public sector adjustments, remembering who their audience is for this election. The whole point of the Blair legacy and the Blair questions was to find out if and when any of these Leaders might want to reassure or even attract strivers and successful people to their broken and reduced coalition.

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6 Comments

  1. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Not one of them has the X-factor; in fact they seem to lack any kind of credibility and authority. They remind me of a group of schoolchildren pretending to be adults and I couldn't imagine any one of them running anything successfully let alone the country.

  2. sean O'Hare
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    John

    There is a typo 8 lines above the end of your post. You have spelt "Mr Balir" when everyone knows it should be "Mr Bliar".

  3. John Bracewell
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Well done for not commenting on the Labour leadership election. I wish you had tried that little bit harder and not written this piece.

  4. Alan Jutson
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    So three ex Ministers standing for election of the leadership of the Labour Party.

    Anyone would think they were all successful people with a vision for the future, not tainted with the biggest deficit in history, and many other Policy failures whilst they were in control.

    No new blood, no new ideas.

  5. DBC Reed
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Since the rising generation cannot buy a home until their forties on average,it is difficult to see how the strivers can be got on board.However Burnham is talking about "aspirational socialism" and his Land Value Tax is one way of making house prices more affordable.

  6. rose
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    This is yet another legacy of Brown, Mandelson, and Blair: they spent 13 years keeping the real talent in their party down and out, for fear of not looking good themselves. A few examples: Ann Taylor was quickly removed when she distinguished herself as leader of the lower house, eventually being sent to the upper house. Nick Raysnford was given a poisoned chalice and sank without trace. Frank Field gets one fleeting mention in PM's memoirs. Even John Reid was no match for the tricky trio. There must be younger versions of these. It is not good for the country to have weak leaders of the opposition. Perhaps the 80s may be repeated – when the most damaging opposition came from the government benches.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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