Monday, June 15, 2015

Labour leadership contest - a battle of the nice, the bland and the mostly unqualified

Yvette Cooper, who is seeking the Labour leadership, has ministerial experience and been an MP since 1997. Tom Watson, candidate for deputy Labour leader, has been in parliament since 2001 and has ministerial and top flight select committee experience. They're both absurdly overqualified and should withdraw now. Obviously people who've only been an MP for 5 years and only held junior shadow ministerial jobs are the ones to be taken seriously.

In the end though it will be Burnham or Cooper who come out on top, with the seriously unqualified Liz Kendall coming in a strong third. Caroline Flint might get the deputy leader job. Her campaign email emphasises her apparently impeccable proletarian credentials, always popular among the comrades, and then belatedly goes on to talk about the Party's need to connect with people of all backgrounds. Oh yeah Caroline. Any ideas on how to do that? Andy gives us "aspiration"; the buzzword everyone echoed as soon as Labour lost.

The only member of the Labour front bench with gravitas, passion, and the intellectual heft to face up to the dire state of the party after one of its worst performances for 80 years, is Hilary Benn. And he's backing Andy Burnham.

Benn obviously assumes he wouldn't win. A calculation perhaps based on him unsuccessfully challenging dear Harriet's assumption as deputy leader in 2007, and popular dislike of political dynasties. Or maybe, like another very able "might have been", Alan Johnson, he doesn't really hunger for it.