Saturday, September 25, 2010

Congratulations Ed Miliband

I can't tell you how relieved I am that Ed Miliband defeated David Miliband for the Labour leadership. I'm sorry for David M and all, but he would have been wrong for the leadership. And my fave Ed Balls came a respectable third.

I think Labour people will be pretty happy with this result. The press of course are spitting feathers as their pick didn't get the job.

One meme going around is that he wasn't the first pick of the MPs part of the electoral college. But the MPs don't exactly have a brilliant record for picking winners do they? In the last 30 years, the only two leaders of Labour who were chosen solely by the MPs were Michael Foot and our poor grumpy Gord. Good men to be sure, but they didn't win elections.

The full electoral college has a better record. When they chose Kinnock over Hattersley, there were similar cries about how Labour had "lurched left", but actually it was a sign Labour was marching to the centre. It was Kinnock after all who chased Militant out of Labour and began the rebranding of the party that was to lead to victory in 1997. The full electoral college also chose John Smith and Tony Blair, and in 2007 chose Harriet Harman as Deputy Leader.

When Harman won, again we saw the press cry "left wing" (and the MPs went for Alan Johnson, the man who was silly enough to urge people to vote tactically for the LibDems in the lead up to the 2010 election). Harman proved to be the right choice - under her temporary leadership, Labour recovered incredibly fast after the election. The Tories took 10 years and four leaders to at last recover in the polls in 2007 after their 1997 defeat. It took Harriet two months.

Why does the full electoral college make sounder decisions than the MPs? Mainly because they live in real Britain, rather than in the Westminster bubble, talking to a narrow press that seeks to influence them.

As for the meme that the EdM is a "union" man, the affiliates weren't exactly uniform in the way they voted. USDAW plumped very heavily for David Miliband, CWU went heavily for Ed Balls, and Aslef and the Musicians Union went for Diane. As for the non-union affiliates, the Fabians went narrowly for David Miliband, as did Black Asian Minority Ethnic Labour, Labour Students and the Society of Labour Lawyers. Labour is quite a complex movement and not easy to stereotype - though I've no doubt our enemies will have a go.