Having satisfied myself that I can’t separate my work from my politics, I have a somewhat indulgent post about the current events of the day. I’ve been following the Labour Leadership contest with intermittent interest.
Since the election the interregnum between Gordon Brown’s resignation and the assumption to the role of leader by Ed Miliband has given the coalition time to ride out their ‘honeymoon’ period. At the time, I thought it might have been better (although I don’t think the Labour Party constitution would allow it) for another leader to be crowned as soon as possible. In retrospect, I can see the benefit of having had the hustings and debate about the leadership and more importantly, the time for the Coalition to ride out the initial positive freshness and have a strong leader in place for the upcoming spending review and into the future.
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I am no wise political pundit – I was always expecting a Miliband victory – just not necessary that particular Miliband..There was the curious factor in having two brothers fight the election against each other and in a competition between two Eds and two Milibands, I suppose it satisfies a certain neatness to have the candidate who is both an Ed and a Miliband win. Away from the flippancy, I expect an intellectual rigour and broad understanding of policy. The noises made seem to be fairly positive and, as the election proved, the electorate needed change and if I had had a vote, I would have voted for him.
I don’t really need to explain my views about Balls – I have elsewhere and I won’t ever be able to shake off my distaste for him. I find him below contempt.
I respect Diane Abbott as a politician and have for a long time. She is a welcome face of diversity among the candidates – not just as a black woman but because of her background politically. She is a strong conviction politician. I hope she has a place in the future of Labour and that her voice remains strong although I don’t really have much doubt that it will – it’s just a matter of how closely she is held to the centre of the power axis.
Burnham was a bit bland in my view and I didn’t really know where to place him but I’m not a long-standing Labour activist. My only ‘contact’ with him was a Secretary of State for Health and to be honest, he didn’t have time to make a deep mark. I have no doubt he’ll pop up again.
So back to the Milibands. David, possibly lost out by being more closely associated with the previous government and the backing of Blair possibly didn’t help him in the wake of the publication of Blair’s memoirs but ultimately, the race was just so close that any number of things could have affected the result one way or the other.
Ed placed himself to the left of David. He spoke more about grassroots and not losing sight of the Labour movement from which the party grew. David, as the more senior politician was more closely linked to the previous government and her policies – some of which, especially the military action in Iraq and Afghanistan and deeply unpopular. Ed is a little less tainted by association.
The whispers have already started about the place the union and affiliate membership had in the electoral college system that Labour uses to elect a leader. I expect they will continue for a long time. As a union member, I don’t see why the positions of the unions shouldn’t have value. Although there’s a massive difference between union member and union activist (which I’m not really – although I’m beginning to feel maybe I should be.. ). Lots of the target centre voters are union members as well – they aren’t the sole domain of the blue collar classes. I have a feeling unions may become ever more important over the next few years as well as the cuts bite and it’s worth remembering that union members are people with votes too and shouldn’t necessarily be discounted so readily by the press.
From here, I wish all the candidates well, especially the new leader of the Labour Party. Personally, I hope he’s able to restore some of my faith in the Labour Party.
On a more fraternal note, I wonder if it’s the first time that the winning leadership candidate told his closest rival that he loved him on stage.