Saturday, 11 September 2010

Summary: Labour Leadership Special

Firstly, we’d like to say a big thank you to Claire, Stacey, Liza, Philip and Nick for their contributions to our Labour Leadership Special this week. Their fascinating insight has provided a really valuable source of debate and discussion.

Here’s a quick summary of the points and issues raised in each discussion:
  • The exchange on Ed Miliband focused on his personality and opinion was divided as to his ability to relate to individuals and the electorate as a whole. It was argued that, of all the candidates, Ed was most easily able to combine electability with progressive values. People seemed attracted to Ed’s campaign for a Living Wage and many felt Ed was the most likely to attract votes from disaffected Lib-Dems.

  • There was a general consensus that Ed Balls was a bullish and dogged politician, but opinion was divided as to his appropriacy to lead the Labour Party. Throughout the debate there was a clear respect for Balls’ economic nous, but many thought his aggressive style and presentation skills could make him an electoral liability. Regardless of the outcome of the leadership election, it is clear that Balls has established himself as a big beast of the party and has no doubt carved out a niche for himself as the Shadow Chancellor.

  • David Miliband inspired the most controversial analysis of all the candidates. There was little dispute over David’s political and rhetorical aptitude, but he certainly elicited the most vehement dissent. Opponents focussed on David’s close association with New Labour and, in particular, the Iraq war. Many Labour supporters are uneasy at the prospect of the former Foreign Secretary leading the party and suspect him of covering up state torture. Having said this, David enjoyed the fiercest rebuttal from his champions and definitely had the most advocates of all the candidates. There is certainly extensive support in favour of David Miliband, but his victory threatens to divide the party.

  • Philip’s advocacy of Diane Abbott was much more focused on policy than any of the other candidates. This helped differentiate her from the other four who are all closely linked to New Labour. For this reason, Diane Abbott could easily be characterised as the ‘opposition’ candidate – but her presence on the ballot undoubtedly broadens the area of debate. Although identified most strongly as the left-wing candidate, there was persistent concern regarding Diane’s decision to send her son to public school.

  • Andy Burnham didn’t arouse as much discussion and debate as the other candidates and perhaps this suggests he lacks the profile to lead the party. Andy has acknowledged himself that he hasn’t received the same media attention as his rivals, but is this because he’s lead an uninspired campaign or is it because the media has been seduced by the experience of the other candidates? In response Andy has forged a grassroots campaign. He is a loyal politician and has conducted a robust fight against the privatisation of the NHS. As demonstrated by Newsnight’s focus group yesterday, he evidently impresses in person and can easily relate to individuals.

As a whole, the leadership race has focused on personality rather than policy. There is very little to separate the candidates on what they believe and how they have voted in the past (with the exception of Diane Abbott). The campaign itself has been relatively amicable and the lack of disagreement makes it very hard to differentiate between the candidates. The cordial and fraternal hustings promote the perception of a united party, but it would have benefited from a more combative polemic. It could also breathe new energy into the party. All contenders have made it clear that they want to build a new party, but it’s still unclear what this new party would look like. Only time will tell.

Now we’ve heard about all five rivals, what order are you going to place the candidates? Those brave enough to say, post below!


Anonymous said...

1st - EB: Best candidate to oppose cut
2nd - EM: Attract Lib Dems
3rd - AB: Honest and inoffensive
4th - DM: Associated with Blair
5th - DA: Liability

Anonymous said...

1st EM, 2nd DA, 3rd EB - that is how I voted. No 4th or 5th.

Anonymous said...

1st - DA
2nd - EM
3rd - EB
4th - AB

no 5th

Dan @ Eyes on Power said...

1st - Tony Benn
2nd - John McDonnell
3rd - Jeremy Corbyn
4th - Dennis Skinner
5th - Harry Perkins

Liza said...

Obviously for me,

1st - DM
2nd - AB
3rd - EB
4th - EM
5th - DA

I think it's a little bit unfair to say that David Miliband risks dividing the party, especially as Movement For Change is uniting people at all levels in our communities across the country as we speak. Many people like myself can see beyond New Labour (which did some great things which can't be denied btw) and the unfortunate Iraq War.
Although he may have worked closely with Tony Blair, he didn't necessarily agree on everything. David Miliband is himself - no need for labels! He represents a new kind of politics which will lead to a much stronger, broader and at the same time "united in values" Party that will win the next election above all - we have no time to lose against the dispicable ConDems!
Please vote for the whole package - David Miliband.

Anonymous said...

Although I'm backing DM, this is how my ballot paper reads:

1st AB
2nd EB
3rd DM
4th EM
5th DA

The press and, to a larger extent, the party have turned it into a Milband v Miliband competition when, really, the two who have shown the best ideas and the best connection with the general populice are Burnham and Balls.

Realistically I know it'll be a Miliband and that's why David's placed higher than Ed - even in a 'fair' contest I still would've gone for David.

But we can't ignore that they haven't taken the fight to the coalition as much as others, and that should be recognised.

Steve Johnson said...

1st David,2nd Ed Balls,Ed Miliband,Andy,Diane.

uzzz1871 said...

1st AB
2nd EM
And that's it. Think AB is by far the best to unite the party and get away from the factions of old, but he's fighting against the disadvantage of a London-based media and party.
Didn't give preference votes to DA or EB because I think they'd both be electoral liabilities, or for DM as I think he'd take us back to being the sort of party I'd not want to belong to.

Anonymous said...

1 AB
2 EB
3 DM
4 EM
5 DA

Anonymous said...

1 Me
2 My Dad
3 My Mum
4 My Sister
5 Tony Blair

Anonymous said...

@Liza - your argument is 'it's unfair to say David Miliband will divide the party because his supporters support him.' He quite clearly will divide the party. If he wins I will seriously consider leaving the party.

LabourLove said...

haha @ Dan@Eyes on Power. I've just voted online:

1) DA
2) EM
3) EB
4) AB

Didn't even bother putting DM on the ballot. I just hope the polls are right that EM may win on 2nd votes. That's if DA doesn't win of course :)

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