Since Harold Wilson the Labour party have lost every general election when they had a left wing leader. It is not what the British people want. It is only with the social democrat, Tony Blair that they won, every time he led them in an election. So you would think that they would learn and adapt, instead of persisting, as they did with Miliband, in choosing unelectable lefties to lead them.
The current Labour party has three wings, the social democrats are known as Blairites, the lefties are known as Brownites and the extreme lefties are known as McCluskeyites. In October 2013 Miliband had a reshuffle of his shadow cabinet in which he culled the Blarites and replaced them with Brownites. So the Blairites are utterly fuming and want their revenge. They see, quite rightly, Labour’s election debacle as being a consequence of the party becoming too left wing to be electable.
The new leader has to be elected, and we instantly have a huge problem. There are three electorates; party members, MPs and trade unions. Their choices are then added together to get the result. In 2010 Miliband lost the vote with the members and with the MPs, it was only the vote of the unions that made him leader. The same could happen again. Because the unions are unreconstructed lefties and will happily vote for “their” leader, even if it means losing elections.
One scenario that is being touted at the moment is that the Labour Party will split, with the social democrats walking off to get away from the influence of the unelectable left. Exactly as the gang of four did in 1981. And for the same reasons.
At the moment there are no candidates to replace Miliband, this is because each nomination for the contest must be supported by 12.5 per cent of the Labour MPs, which is a considerable hurdle to overcome and which limits the number of candidates. So the factions must be very careful about who they put forward. It is worth noting here that Alan Johnson, who would be a very strong candidate, has already ruled himself out.
So who are the potential candidates?
Liz Kendall. Blairite. Part of the 2010 intake to the house, so untainted by the abysmal Brown government. She has an impressive academic record and did some excellent work before becoming an MP, whereupon she rose rapidly through the ranks, despite being a Blairite. She was shadow Heath Minister and famously said: “there will remain a role for the private and voluntary sectors where they can add extra capacity to the NHS or challenges to the system”, arguing that with the NHS “what matters is what works”. So she put the patients ahead of lefty dogma.
Chuka Umunna. Blairite. Also part of the 2010 intake and any thinking person’s favourite for the job. An impressive, though less illustrious, academic record than Kendall was followed by the legal career that led him into politics. He was was shadow Business Secretary, joining the shadow cabinet despite being a Blairite and he is very pro Business. He realises that wealth must be generated before it can be spent, unlike Miliband. He is telegenic and an assured performer. The man most likely to restore Labour’s fortunes.
Yvette Cooper (Mrs Ed Balls). Brownite. A stellar academic career followed by politics. Brown’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury and then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, so very tainted. Shadow Foreign Secretary. A polished and assured performer. She is authoritarian and against free speech on the internet. Came out of the expenses scandal very badly having ‘flipped’ their second home three times in 24-months. Had to repay £1,363.
Andy Burnham. Brownite. Good academic career then into politics. Under Brown he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and then Secretary of State for Health, so is very tainted, especially from his inept handling of the Mid Staffs Hospital disaster. He stood for leader in 2010 and had an execrable campaign. In 2008 Burnham announced Government plans to crack down on the internet, showing his authoritarian tendencies. He is a very poor public performer and comes across badly on television.
When it come to the election it may not even be these four, let’s see how the nominations work out. Very many Labour MPs are “sponsored” by the trade unions or owe them other debts, so it will be very hard to beat whoever is the chosen Brownite candidate. This will probably be Burnham, despite his unelectability, ensuring that Labour spend 15 years out of power.
There is also the faint possibility that Labour go for the best candidate. That they don’t behave like turkeys voting for Christmas. In which case Chuka will be a formidable leader.