Mike Forster looks at the leadership contenders: David Miliband is Brazil.

Much has been said on this site and others about communicating with our core constituency in a language they can understand. So thought I’d have a crack at explaining the second-most interesting contest going on at the moment in terms of the first.

True, there aren’t 32 contenders in the Labour leadership contest, but there are parallels with the world cup.

Whichever team wins the football, though, it is unlikely to have much of an impact on your life or anybody you know. Even England winning will only have a fleeting impact, mainly a stinking hangover on July 12th.

Our eventual choice of leader, though, could mean the difference between 5 years of a Tory government or 10, or even more.

That is why I have been surprised at how many politicians and activists have raced to back candidates as loyally as they would their national team before the debate we are promised has even really started.

It’s like declaring the winner of X Factor before anyone has had a chance to sing. As with the World Cup, the competition has only just started. And much like the World Cup, anything could happen between now and the final – it is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Brazil and Spain may be favourites, but they will have to work hard to get their hands on that coveted trophy on 11th July. I want the leadership candidates to have to work just as hard for every vote they receive. But that means that those voting need to have an open mind and a willingness to challenge their own preconceptions.

As for how the leadership candidates line up…

David Miliband, obviously, is Brazil. The one I’d put my money on, even if I’d rather he didn’t win. Been at the top for a long time, and oozes confidence and skill.

Sometimes that confidence can get him in trouble and allow opponents to steal a march on him, but assuming he keeps on an even keel he’s definitely the one to beat.

Ed Miliband is Spain. Relatively new as a favourite to win. He has long been recognised as having bags of ability, but he has yet to prove himself on the big stage. In great form recently though – he’s the one to watch.

Ed Balls is Germany. Unpopular in England. Plenty of ability, but you don’t really see him winning it – he would have had a better chance back in the 80s. Like all Germans, really nice bloke when you meet him, but has dodgy taste in music (N-Dubz, anyone?).

Andy Burnham is England. My favourite candidate, but I don’t think he can win it. Has the ability to put in passionate performances and whip up supporters, but has never really proved his prowess on the big occasion. Will do well if he fires on all cylinders, but don’t put too much money on him.

Diane Abbott is New Zealand. Only really there because you couldn’t just have an insular contest of the same old predictable names, she (along with everyone else) knows that she can’t win.

Let’s hope for some gutsy performances and maybe an upset along the way.

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3 Responses to “Mike Forster looks at the leadership contenders: David Miliband is Brazil.”

  1. Matthew Stiles says:

    “Diane Abbott is New Zealand. Only really there because you couldn’t just have an insular contest of the same old predictable names, she (along with everyone else) knows that she can’t win.”

    Oh really, Diane’s reception at the hustings so far tells a different story. Diane did very well at the New Statesman hustings as even New Labourites like Alex Hilton have said (see LabourHome site). Also about those hustings on Labourlist “Diane entered the hall to rapturous applause and stood in the centre of the platform with two former cabinet ministers either side of her. She was captivating, speaking articulately and passionately about how she would tackle the deficit and deal with immigration and the BNP. She said Mummy Miliband should have told her boys about the unfairness of life.­ It was her passionate and unique way of addressing the audience, coupled with her left-wing perspective, that made her the undisputed champion of the debate.”

  2. Mike Forster says:

    Like I say, Matthew, I’m willing to be convinced, and what appears here is different to what I wrote for Dianne.

    I think with Dianne it’s different – she has to convince me that she could lead the party back into power, whereas the Milibands and Burnham have to convince me that in returning us to power they won’t sacrifice the very principles that make us Labour.

  3. Delora Umali says:


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