Saturday, June 12, 2010

Labour Leadership Campaign: Where It Stands

This interview with David Miliband in today's Times is notable. In it he movingly talks about how he and his wife came to adopt their two sons. Eighteen months ago when I profiled him for GQ he was very reluctant to talk about that issue as he regarded it as 'private'. So, why the change of heart? I think it is partly because of the backwash of the David Laws affair. He's decided, like David Cameron, that an aspirant Prime Minister has to be completely open about every aspect of his life. He knows that if he doesn't give the full story, the newspapers will start digging and find out anyway.

Milband has fought a textbook leadership campaign so far. He is clearly the leader in the field of five and the others see him as the man to beat. He's taken one or two risks, but none that have backfired. I still think he has a problem garnering support right across the Labour Party, but that maybe something that the passage of time will solve.

The big disappointment in the campaign so far has been his brother Ed, the man I first tipped as next Labour Party leader in that GQ article in October 2008. His campaign hasn't taken off so far, and he has even been eclipsed by Ed Balls. He seems to be too desperate to find issues on which he can differentiate himself from his brother. That's not the way to define himself as a leader. Unlike his brother he doesn't seem hungry enough for the job. That needs to change and change fast.

Strangely, it is Ed Balls who has eclipsed the other Ed in the campaign so far. Although his remarks on immigration have been laughably blatant, he seems to have set an agenda for the others to follow. He has also got one or two attack dogs on his team who can go for the other candidates as surrogates. Balls still needs to watch how he comes over on the media - because he doesn't - but at the moment, its he who is in second place.

Andy Burnham is just desperate. Desperate to portray himself as the renegade. Desperate to highlight his northernness, as evidenced by the very odd decision to base his campaign in Manchester. That's about the only thing one can remember about his contribution to far. At the moment you'd have to say that he is likely to come last on the first ballot.

Diane Abbott has wangled her way onto the ballot, and a good thing too. My suspicion is that she will do much better than many people think, purely by not being called Miliband or Ed and the fact that her policy platform will be very different. She is the very antithesis of being a team player so I'd hate to be her campaign manager, but if she plays this right she could soon become a major figure in post New Labour politics. Who'd have thought it?

The campaign hasn't really caught fire yet. The New Statesman debate has probably been the highlight so far. None of the candidates seems to have mentioned the last general election, let alone come up with any reasons and explanations for Labour's defeat. It's difficult when you've been a big part of it, but it has to be done if Labour is to move on and prepare itself for the next election.

16 comments:

tapestry said...

It's like watching paint dry, or possibly another substance known for its capacity to stick onto walls (or hit fans).

tapestry said...

It's like watching paint dry, or possibly another substance known for its capacity to stick onto walls (or hit fans).

Moriarty said...

I want Abbott to win. Not for the juvenile reason that it will be good for the Tories but for the even more juvenile reason that it might keep Caroline Flint on This Week.

Daed Parrot said...

In addition to Ian's excellent article, read further shocking tales of the candidates here: The Marxist Brothers - Leadership Election Special

Read of Diane's heartfelt confession, Ed's failed stage career and poor Whotsisname's pursuit of recognition ...

Jim Baxter said...

'He's decided, like David Cameron, that an aspirant Prime Minister has to be completely open about every aspect of his life.'

Or he's decided to play the 'I'm human too' card.

Iain tends to see the good in people, where possible.

FX Man said...

Enjoyed your lathering of Yasmin A-B last night.

http://fxbites.blogspot.com/2010/06/young-gifted-and-white.html

http://fxbites.blogspot.com/2010/06/tillo-brillo-shrillo.html

JJ said...

Moriarty...not juvenile at all...I was trying to listen to Portillo make some points, but couldn't take my eyes off Caroline Flint, and therefore developed a ludicrously obvious erection! I suspect old brillo-pad has got a thing for her too.

Anyway, I think its about time for a change on the sofa...I got tired of Abbott a long time ago, Caroline would be perfect.

steve said...

Ed M is a nobody to anybody outside the Westminster Village. And I am mystified as to what appeal you think he has.

I do want Abbot to do well for juvenile reasons. I am increasingly aware of how upset many mild mannered not politically active people are becoming with the odd left policies on everything from immigration to education and everything in between.
Abbot on telly week in week out will keep this to the fore. The English protestant majority are becoming tired.


Must start watching This Week again.....

Moriarty said...

@JJ

Portillo was on? I can't say I noticed.

Dick the Prick said...

You can send your messages of support to Mr Balls over at Guido's and I think you'd all like to join with me in hoping for his success. He really is an outstanding politician of rare character, ability, intellect and charissma that would undoubtedly be a distict individual in an party.

Predictions Iain? 2-0 to England (hopefully). The South Africa v Mehicco game had a couple of scorchio goals - yowzers. Apparently South Korea looked good but I fell asleep.

Jim Baxter said...

Tom Harris will not allow questions on his blog about his support for D. Milliband if they refer to Milliband's abandonment of Purnell last year and Tom's previous friendship with Purnell.

It's against his comments policy. His blog. Fair enough.

Gareth said...

"So, why the change of heart? I think it is partly because of the backwash of the David Laws affair. He's decided, like David Cameron, that an aspirant Prime Minister has to be completely open about every aspect of his life."

Miliband does what every politician who wants to be a top flight politician does - he pimps his family to the media gaggle.

It is as cynical as Blair demanding people not take pictures of his children and then parading them around for select cameras and as cynical as Brown claiming to not use his family as props and spend three years doing so.

Peter said...

Labour have to face facts, whoever wins is unlikely to fight a General Election much less become Prime Minister. William Hague and Ian Duncan Smith were only transitional leaders. It is a long way for Labour to come back let alone win back power.
Hence the lack luster leadership campaign.
Also the quality of the candidates is simply awful!

Terry said...

I've emailed Ellie whatsername as recommended on Guido's blog. Support Balls for leader as any good Tory would. (Yes O know its puerile but i don't care. That b*st*rd Brown has ensured my old age will be very uncomfortable - I become an OAP in a couple of months - so anything that help keeps them in opposition eternally is fine by me.)

Chris said...

I agree that Abbott will do better than people are predicting because, as she points out, all the others are basically continuity candidates despite their attempts to differentiate themselves. Most Labour party members know they need change and voting for Abbott is the only way to indicate that. It's not that different to when Maggie challenged Heath in 1975. A lot of her original support was an anti Heath vote and it was assumed she would open the race for others. But in the end she gained too much momentum and couldn't be stopped. Abbott may lack the credibility to go all the way but I think she could surprise some people.

manicbeancounter said...

The fact that no-one can make a break from the worst aspects of the last 13 years - spin and the failure to control public spending - means that none have anything new to offer. Like with the Tories, Labour need a time for reflection. That means a leader who is prepared never to be Prime Minister.