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.