Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Labour Leadership Election

I've been way too busy to post, and to be truthful haven't had the time to follow the leadership contest closely either - but I'm not sure that's entirely a bad thing. This is how most voters absorb their politics, on the periphery of their lives, in snippets. Tiny things seep through, lots of things that the chatterati think are important don't, and a conclusion is formed.

So here's who I'm voting for (and the list is in a different order than it was when the contest first started, so the long contest has changed my mind).

1. Ed Balls. He gets my first preference. I think he's the brightest of all the contestants, and the only "Essex bloke" type in this contest, and why shouldn't Essex bloke have a go at leading a major political party? Polls are showing that on education the coalition has a negative rating, which is entirely down to how well Balls has communicated his position to voters. He probably won't win due to his closeness to Brown, but I'm giving him first preference so that he has a base to play a major part in the fight to regain power.

2. Andy Burnham. He wasn't even on my radar when this contest started. I'm giving him second preference (and hope he wins) mainly because I like him. It's not just me -everyone seems to like him, whether they are political or non political. This is a huge deal for a politician, it's like the holy grail. I also like his opposition towards electoral reform, and his willingness to think outside the box. He is not associated at all with the previous Labour administration, despite having served in it, and I think a Burnham led Labour party would mark a fresh start. I also think there's some underlying grit in him in the way he has kept at it, refusing to concede that it's just a Miliband v Miliband affair, and continuing to come up with initiatives.

3. Ed Miliband. Originally he was my favourite, but has fallen back. It boils down to this - I don't think he's tough enough for the job of leader.

4. David Miliband. I tried to give him a fair hearing, but every time he opens his mouth he puts me off. He just talks jargon, and sometimes I'm not even certain he knows what he means. The only time I got a glimmer of the real David underneath the geek-speak was when he did a live web interview on the Guardian's CiF - but unfortunately he cut it short because he apparently had somewhere more important to be, and for me that summed up his problem: he doesn't realise he has a communication problem and that engaging with voters and critics is important. The MPs will probably vote for him overwhelmingly, but we must hope that members and affiliates don't.

5. Diane Abbott. What can I say? She's intelligent, not as left wing as she pretends, but ruins it all by being too grand to engage. Still she did inject a little flurry of excitement at the start of the contest.

So there you go. I'm crossing my fingers that Andy Burnham is the dark horse who will come through the middle. I wish I had been able to campaign for his candidacy earlier but life and business got in the way.