Are we going to see candidates have a go at each other?

One of the main strategic questions candidates for the Labour leadership are grappling with is the degree to which they should define their campaign by reference to the other candidates. So far, things have been cordial and bland, but there are signs this will not last much longer.

Liz Kendall was at it in her Observer column yesterday. Promising to “get power out of Westminster and into the hands of the people it affects” she said Labour had “let the Tories steal our clothes with their northern powerhouse and proposals to give Manchester more control over health services.”

This can be read as a criticism of Andy Burnham, who has opposed the devolving the NHS in the Greater Manchester area to its new metro mayor.

It’s no secret Burnham and Kendall don’t get on and publicly differ in their view about how much the private sector should be involved in providing NHS services.

Kendall, pitching herself as the modernising candidate, also claimed that “old hierarchies don’t fit today’s social networks and a culture of deference and uniformity too often stifles innovation.”

Deference is an interesting choice of word. Could she mean the same deference that saw Andy Burnham sign-off a letter to Prince Charles when he was health secretary with the antiquated term, “I have the honour to remain, Sir, your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant?”

But Burnham’s been at it too. Before he ruled out standing, Tristram Hunt said Labour needed to be “on the side of families who want to shop at John Lewis, go on holiday and get a new extension”. Launching his campaign last month, Burnham said Labour must not limit its appeal “only to shoppers at John Lewis”.

But these subtle digs at opponents may be about to shift a gear. Our colleagues over at LabourList report that Yvette Cooper is set to make a speech warning the party should not take the new but untested and naive option.

Liz Kendall, it notes, was only elected in 2010. If that is indeed meant for her, then it’s a humdinger of a slap and a massive escalation in hostilities.

And we still have another 12 weeks to go.

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7 Responses to “Are we going to see candidates have a go at each other?”

  1. Madasafish says:

    So far what I have read of the campaign is enough to persuade me that by comparison Formula On is exciting and England vs Ireland was an thrilling duel of footballing skills…:-)

    Looks to me like a bunch of second rate – sorry make that third rate – politicians trying to persuade a captive audience they have a heart .. About as interesting as watching red paint dry and discovering it’s nearly blue..

    If this is the best there is, unless something dramatic happens – and of course it can – prepare for another five years in opposition. My scores for leadership, and personality are a point above Ed Miliband. So that ‘s about 3 out of 10..

    Sorry but if you want a dull and boring leader, in my view you’ve selected the right candidates..

  2. swatantra says:

    Hope so. Wouldn’t be the Labour Party if we didn’t indulge in a bit of self destruction.

  3. Anne says:

    I have taken a liking to Mary Creagh – I saw her on Question Time and was impressed by her – her answers were certainly the best on the panel – hope she gets the number of MPs to support her

  4. David Walker says:

    Kendall is the best of a very uninspiring bunch. She has no chance of being elected leader and probably knows it. This is a practice run for her. Who would really want the leadership this time around, anyway?

    Only those in the last chance saloon. Burnham and Cooper both fit the bill, even though they are relatively young. They have been around long enough to already look jaded and part of a discredited former regime.

    Chuka saw which way the wind was blowing and got out in the nick of time. His credibility will take a hit and he may struggle to appear like he has the mental strength to be leader next time around. I hope for his sake, he has the guts to say ‘You know what? I just decided that it was a terrible time for someone like me to become leader. Now feels like a much better time’.

    The smartest move for Kendall would be to guarantee to put herself for re-election in 2-3 years time. While it probably won’t be enough to make the party take a chance on her, she might spook one or more of the other candidates into making the same promise.

    Given that she is going to run again (and that she would have much more chance of success in 2-3 years if Labour treads water with Burnham/Cooper during that time), she has very little to lose by doing so.

    Corbyn should also offer this. He could tell fellow-MPs that the party will see an upturn in its fortunes if it reverts to being a genuinely left-wing organisation. If he is wrong and things go really badly, the party can give him the boot before having to go through a General Election with him as leader.

    I doubt that either will do it, as nobody really wants to upset the horses. Burnham will narrowly defeat Cooper and the long march to defeat can begin.

    I’m not even entirely convinced that Labour MPs wants to be in government. On the rare occasions that a Labour government is elected, they don’t seem to enjoy being in power that much and give the impression of being somewhat relieved when defeat pays them yet another visit.

    What the party really enjoys is a good old fashioned debate. Why not just make it a full-time debating society and put all the members out of their misery?

    The Tories aren’t interested in debating with each other. Even on Europe, where the party is hopelessly divided, few MPs seem bothered about winning each other round.

    The Tories just want to govern. They will do whatever it takes to stay in power, because they just love being in office.

  5. John P Reid says:

    I recall why Andy Burnham use to call Ed Miliband behind closed doors during the 2010 ca,pain both were trying to not be the successor to Blair/Brown the way David M or Ed Bwere.
    Both understood Labour was unpopular with the public due to snouts in the Troff, or the Westminster bubble, Burnham admitting he went straight int politics, but at the same time, was all the better to make tough decision because of it, EdM. And now Yvette, have had to just shake it off and Grudgingly get on with being political elite, Andy now more part of the establishment of Than Yvette.
    Surprised Heidi alexander is backing Andy again, told me that she backed him last time as he was the change candidate, but this time, he’s too similar to Ed M,
    Yvette is very constistant, knows enough,not to try to be a control freak,

    In 2010 I thought Andy’s personality with Ed balls attack dog would have been the best, now I feel Yvettes personality with Liz’s policies would be the best.

    And we haven’t even started on the London Mayoralty or the deputy leadership…

  6. Mike Stallard says:

    And the EU Referendum?
    I thought the Labour movement was against globalised big business? Please take the time to read this from Roger Helmer’s blog (UKIP MEP). Dismiss it is you like, but these people are tearing shreds off the Labour vote especially in the Northern heartlands.

    “But there is a much broader issue of the willingness of the European Commission to listen to large companies. Multinationals keep hundreds – perhaps thousands – of lobbyists in Brussels, and they wouldn’t carry that cost if they didn’t think it would deliver. There is a curious symbiosis between large corporations and the EU. The corporations need to influence the Commission, and to do this effectively, they have to sing the Commission’s tune – especially in two key areas. This is why big companies support (publicly at least) EU integration, and oppose Brexit. And this is why they support the orthodoxy on climate change. More than once I’ve heard spokesmen for big-name companies talking publicly about the importance of fighting climate change. But catch them afterwards over a beer, and it’s “Well Roger, you understand why we have to toe the corporate line in public, but my own view is quite different….”.”

    This man knows what he is talking about – neglect him at your peril.

  7. Tafia says:

    Mike – I can seriously see people voting to leave the EU. When Cameron goes to the people, the people will expect not only that he has re-negotiated large chunks of our membership terms, but also – and more importantly – that they are in place.

    And that I think is going to be the problem. People aren’t going to vote to stay in on a promise that something will be done – they will expect it to already be ‘done’ and I don’t think that is possible.

    Also, a lot of politicians think that Yes or No, thet will be the end of the matter. No it won’t. The people that vote No are not going to stop opposing the EU just because they lose a vote. Likewise UKIP won’t be going away either. If anything, they will probably get even bigger on the back of a No vote just as the SNP have.

    A year ago I would have said Yes would win. Now I think No will shade it. They already have the entire UKIP vote and significant chunks of voters for the other parties are also anti-EU. And if the EU itself gets involved and/or the public start to perceive that Yes is being favoured in any way shape or form, then even more will vote No or won’;t vote at all in protest.

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