Liz Kendall 1. Yvette Cooper 2. Andy Burnham 3

by Atul Hatwal

The ballot has finally arrived so it’s time to vote. Time to back the candidate who is right about what Labour must to do to regain power; to give a second preference to the candidate who could yet save Labour from self-immolation and register a third preference for a candidate not called Jeremy Corbyn.

Liz Kendall is my first preference. She has displayed guts and determination in her campaign. She’s right about the big issues and of all the candidates is the one who grasps the magnitude of Labour’s challenge in winning back public trust on the economy.

The personal abuse and level of misogyny that she’s faced is ludicrous and her response has revealed the type of steel Labour needs in its leaders.

Despite the trolls and the torrent of hate, she’s managed to secure endorsements from council leaders, trade unionists and the best and brightest of Labour’s new generation of MPs such as Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt and Emma Reynolds.

Liz Kendall and her platform are the future of the Labour party. It’s just a shame that her campaign hasn’t harnessed this as effectively as it might.

Too often, the message communicated to Labour members has been that they’re wrong and have to accept they are wrong.

Whatever the bald facts of a situation, simply telling voters’ that they’re mistaken is always a losing strategy.

Just as Labour’s economic message cannot continue to be based on telling the public they were wrong at the 2010 and 2015 election about the party’s spending record a decade ago, so an aspiring Labour leader cannot just be the bearer of bad tidings to the membership.

In 1994, the Blair leadership campaign was built around bridging the divide between the membership and the electorate, not telling them to jump it.

Liz Kendall has two unique selling points: she represents a genuinely fresh start, free from the baggage of the 1980s carried by Corbyn or the compromises of government that weigh on Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham; and she is the candidate most likely to switch Tories into the Labour column.

Too often these defining attributes have been obscured.

“Fresh start” might be the Kendall campaign slogan but I’ve barely heard her use that message in interviews or speeches.

Framing the choice as future versus past more forcefully would have communicated the urgency for change and drawn a sharp contrast with other candidates, without needing to be drawn into the minutiae of why the policies that members were recently selling on the doorstep are largely wrong.

The candidate needs to carry a message of optimism and hope. Surrogates should do the necessary dirty work. But in her campaign, Liz Kendall has frequently seemed a one woman band.

And it has taken until last week for the campaign to deploy some evidence to prove the assertion that Liz Kendall is the one that the Tories fear.

The Maitland survey of Conservative MPs, which found they wanted a Corbyn win and worried most about Liz Kendall is hardly revelatory but it is independent validation of one of her key selling points.

It taps into the complex mix of feelings that Labour members have when looking at the Tories: fear and loathing yet also a strong undercurrent of reverence. Despite all that the Tories might do in policy terms which members’ despise, Labour’s rank and file are acutely aware of how the Tories won an election that seemed impossible.

The emotional response to the poll is straight-forward: if the Tories fear her, we want her. Labour members and supporters will accept a lot if it means hitting the Tories where it hurts.

How different the perception of Liz Kendall could have been if this had been in place on day one and repeated daily as part of a mantra along-side the need to turn the page.

Lynton Crosby drilled the Tories to repeat “long term economic plan.” Just under twenty years ago, no Labour spokesperson would do an interview without saying the words “twenty-two Tory tax rises.” Strange then that the Kendall campaign, theoretically the most New Labour of campaigns, does not seem to have had a consistent and disciplined message.

That said, Liz Kendall will come out of the contest personally strengthened. It’s difficult not to admire her calmness under fire and no one can doubt her resolve.

She will do better than many expect and the polls predict, but unfortunately won’t win.

Yvette Cooper, who is my second preference, could win. Her path to the leadership is narrow but momentum has moved in her direction.

She’s left it late but by taking on Jeremy Corbyn and his ideology, she has displayed real political courage. It’s the type of leadership Labour desperately needs and with this stand has shown the qualities worthy of someone who might take the party back to power.

In many ways Yvette Cooper is the most frustrating of the candidates. Of all of the contenders, she is the one who is the easiest to imagine standing outside of the door of number 10. She’s authoritative at the despatch box, unflappable in interviews and is feared by Tory opponents.

But she is cautious. So very cautious. She has stood up to Corbyn, but let weeks pass before making her move. She remains wedded to a defence of Labour’s 2010 economic settlement that will hobble any attempt to be heard by the public, on the economy.

And she is closely associated with the negatives of the Brown government. The Tories will try to characterise her as continuity Brown in the way that Labour tied William Hague to Margaret Thatcher in the 2001 campaign. They will cast her as a relic of rejected Labour age and it will work unless she is politically more fleet-footed than in the past.

But these are all issues for another day. To win power, Labour must exist as an effective fighting force. By taking the fight to Corbyn, Yvette Cooper is giving Labour a chance to save itself and remain politically viable.

Andy Burnham will get my third preference but with grave reservations. Only the gravity of the crisis that Labour faces with the Corbyn insurgency has meant a cross will go next to his name.

Where Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have fought for the type of party that they believe in, the Burnham campaign has pandered, flip-flopped and folded in on itself. Several times. Often within the same day.

This is a candidate who makes a point of claiming to be from outside the Westminster bubble, despite having spent over 99% of his working life in Westminster as a parliamentary researcher, a government special adviser, an MP, a minister and a shadow minister.

A candidate so keen to demonstrate his northern credentials that he answered a question on his favourite biscuit by saying “beer, chips and gravy.”

And who attacked those criticising Jeremy Corbyn as divisive the night before launching his own assault on the Corbyn agenda swiftly followed by a return to his earlier position from the previous night, a day later.

Confused? You should be.

It’s not just the pandering; it’s not simply the zig-zagging on issues which is so problematic. It’s the unbelievably bad political judgement evident in how decisions have been made and executed.

Running to the inside-left of Jeremy Corbyn is an understandable, if risky, strategy. There is a credible case for using this approach to peel off left-wing waverers and stop Corbyn winning.

But it requires constancy of policy and purpose. Carefully picking issues to demonstrate left-wing credentials and sticking to them. Think Yvette Cooper and women’s rights.

Instead, the Burnham campaign has engaged in a chaotic series of manoeuvres, veering wildly from one position to the next, giving the impression of a candidate who is politically bipolar managed by a team that is intellectually incontinent.

But despite the extraordinary vigour with which Andy Burnham has laid waste to his own reputation for competence, name recognition and his residual brand might yet tip him over the magic 50% threshold.

Because of this, he will get a reluctant cross next to his name.

I’m in a small minority: I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn will win but it will be close. Perilously close. Out of the two alternatives, Yvette Cooper is eminently preferable but even Andy Burnham will do.

The priority is as simple as it is existential for Labour: Anyone But Corbyn.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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38 Responses to “Liz Kendall 1. Yvette Cooper 2. Andy Burnham 3”

  1. gary says:

    And for Deputy leadership? I find the deputy leadership is a lot more competitive and interesting. They are all genuinely good candidates, and I wonder why some of them didn’t go for the leadership

  2. Tafia says:

    Joke post surely. It’s almost as if Atul was aked ‘In order, how far behind Corbyn do you think the others will finish, with worst first’

  3. paul barker says:

    In the last week of PLP nominations Corbyn was getting 55% & thats from the group (longstanding Labour members) least likely to vote for Corbyn. I will be surprised if Corbyn gets less than 60% of 1st prefernces.
    Now that you have voted could you start writing about what Labour centrists should do after The Left takeover ?

  4. Hamaas says:

    I disagree. The only candidate who has displayed leadership qualities is JC.

  5. Frederick James says:

    Atul is one of the best commentators on the reality-based Left but this piece is pure wishful thinking because desperation is not conducive to clear thinking.

    However good her ideas, Kendall palpably does not have the personal qualities required to do the job. She is too fragile, insufficiently clubbable, and in the vanishingly unlikely event of being elected would within months go the way of the Manchester headmistress minister (whose name I have rather tellingly forgotten) who rightly concluded she was “not up to the job” and sensibly retired from the fray.

    Cooper is Mrs Balls in most people’s mind. She is brittle, not telegenic, tainted by a multitude of negative associations and her recent adoption of a “sincere” voice (seemingly taught by Thatcher’s vocal coach) makes the flesh of this voter, for one, creep.

    Burnham is a knackered old retread of whom we have seen far too much for what seems like an eternity; but more saliently he is a transparent, unprincipled, charlatan, as his performance in this campaign has amply confirmed although it was obvious before. His media performances, because he has so much baggage to cover up, are an object-lesson in disingenuous bluster, emetic doe-eyed tear jerking and barrow-boy ducking and weaving. He would be a disaster.

    Atul clutches at the straw that Corbyn looks equally old hat. Sorry, only anoraks have ever seen or heard of him before and to most people he looks fresh. Any analysis that denies this vital truth is just whistling in the dark.

    Atul pays brief attention to the atrocious way a good half of his party, notably including Cooper’s camp, has dealt with his preferred candidate Kendall, but the effect of the article is to gloss over it because it is too unpleasant to confront. It is vilification plain and simple and is far nastier than anything the evil Tories could ever manage. The plain fact is that decent Labour members should not be in the same party as these people and that, surely, will be the eventual outcome of these events.

  6. Tafia says:

    Gary, Creasy will win the Deputy Leadership. She has steadily closed down on Watson and has now overtaken him. This is probably a reaction by the voters to the leadership front-runners both being men.

    Her double-pager in today’s Times is very interesting and she is all in favour of the impact Corbyn is having. She also stated she is not interested in a Shadow Cabinet position, seeing the post of next Deputy Leader as one of implementing great change and restructuring to devolve power in the party away from the centre and down to the membership.

    An interesting team – Corbyn/Creasy

  7. Tafia says:

    An interesting comment from Burnham and echoed by Harriet. People who leave the Labour Party because their candidate of choice didn’t win, were never Labour to start with.

  8. swatantra says:

    This is confirmation, if confirmation were needed that Atul has finally gone gaga and lost touch with reality. Liz is even less PM material than JC, and policies aren’t the only things that matter. Its personality empathy and experience, neither of which she possesses. And the common touch. The punters out there would not vote for her in a million years.
    @ gary Balance is needed; that’s why I voted for Caroline, genderwise and policywise
    @ tafia Pity the also rans don’t lose their deposit in this election
    @ paul lets not be triumphalist about JC winning, that’s the worst thing that could happen to Labour; its not going to be a complete rout by the left; on the contrary if JC is the ‘Unity Candidate’ then he is going to have to accommodate all sections and views within the Party.

  9. Mike C says:

    Agree with the analysis but not the final list. If it’s as close as needing third preferences, it’s better to give it to Jeremy Corbyn than Andy Burnham. I haven’t a clue how Andy Burnham would deal with a narrow win. For most of the campaign he’s been chasing Corbyn’s 2nd preferences – long after it was obvious to all they weren’t coming into play. The campaign has found him totally wanting and at least with Jeremy Corbyn we know what we’re getting. But I see your point.

  10. Nick Wright says:

    Is Liz Kendall supported by any currently elected trade union leaders?

  11. Phil N. says:

    I would like to think it’s true but I cannot see anyone but Corbyn winning. I will be voting for Yvette followed by Andy. I think Liz looks very out of touch with the bulk of the party membership, in whatever form and I don’t rate Corbyn’s chances of winning an election.

    I think it’s quite possible that Corbyn will be more conciliatory to the centre/right than people think. I don’t think he can form a shadow cabinet without some existing faces known outside Westminster. I think if he tries to be too dismissive of the MPs not behind him it will lead to lots of in-fighting and it will be impossible for Labour to move forward in any direction. We will look divided and hopeless.

  12. HYUFD says:

    All the polling so far has shown Burnham has the highest ratings with the public, Corbyn has high favourables but higher unfavourables, Cooper’s ratings tend to be negative

  13. HYUFD says:

    Burnham consistently polls best of the 4 amongst the public, Corbyn has high favourables but higher unfavourables, Cooper has a net negative rating in most polls

  14. Madasafish says:

    As an outsider looking in, surely one of the most uninspiring elections I have seen in 50(!) years of watching politics (I started as a counter when Harold Wilson won his first GE.).

    Cooper: tainted by Balls… but really as cold as a dead fish and even less inspiring.
    Kendal – a total flop . No idea how to appeal to her audience so NIL points.
    Burnham – the man’s got no principles, no beliefs and is an obvious lightweight.
    Corbyn – Labour have to be joking. Worth 2 million votes to the Conservatives. He’ll never get security clearance for any briefings for a start and is an obvious throwback to Tony Benn and the 1970s. A “useful idiot.”

  15. ad says:

    So. Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham are all bad politicians. And Jeremy Corbyn is someone the British people are unlikely to be crazy enough to entrust with power.

    What can you say?

    At least Kendalls faults might be put down to inexperience.

  16. Josh says:

    People are flip-flopping with polls. I think we should take a pinch of salt with looking at the polls, afterall, the polls leading up to the GE was very wide of the mark.

    I voted already and it’s none of your 1., 2., 3.

  17. Josh says:

    @Tafia. I’ve been voting for labour for a very long time now and this labour party isn’t labour, it’s blairites nu labour, so I won’t find it difficult to leave

  18. Bob Crossley says:

    ” Running to the inside-left of Jeremy Corbyn is an understandable, if risky, strategy. There is a credible case for using this approach to peel off left-wing waverers and stop Corbyn winning.”

    It’s at this point that I began to despair of finding anything of value in this article. Let’s rephrase it a bit:

    ” Running to the inside-right of David Cameron is an unpalatable, but foolproof, strategy. There is a cast-iron case for using this approach to peel off Tory waverers and stop Cameron winning.”

    In other words triangulation is applauded as the only way to win a UK election when Kendall proposes it, but denigrated as a method of winning a Labour Party election when Andy Burnham actually tries it!

  19. Madasafish says:

    I have to add further to my comments on Mr Corbyn after reading today’s Observer..

    the Corbyn campaign reveals that a Labour government led by the MP for Islington North would reserve the right to renationalise Royal Bank of Scotland and other public assets, “with either no compensation or with any undervaluation deducted from any compensation for renationalisation” if they are sold at a knockdown price over the next five years.

    It is a well known fact that seizing of assets without compensation would fail under the Human Rights Act / EU Law. Leading to £ billions paid in compensation and legal fees and loss of all inward investment (Goodbye new power stations).

    So either Mr Corbyn is ignorant of the law – which is difficult to believe as it’s a Labour law – or he’s being disingenuous…

    So I conclude he’s a liar or an idiot. He’s not the latter self evidently..

    So t

  20. John P Reid says:

    Gary, Angela eagle will come fifth, Watson will get about 45% in the first round
    it depends who comes last in the second Round Caroline Flint or Ben Bradshaw
    if its caroline her votes will transfer equally to Ben and Stella
    so the third round would be
    27% Ben
    27% Stella
    46% Tom

    i think although some of the ‘anyone but Watson people will vote Caroline first, Stella second, a lot of the First pref Ben people will vote Tom second

    so the last round could depend on if Stella beats, ben to fight Tom and how many Ben voters give Tom their second preference,
    and if Tom gets the the extra help of non labour dedicated supporters voting for him because they think his leadership would be counter productive

    tafia what of people who won’t join the party if their candidate of choice doesn’t ,aren’t they labour,
    also i’m sure in the comfort of the ballot box,in 2020, if JC wins know a member who’s been in the party since 1945 who won’t vote labour that time

  21. Matthew King says:

    I Voted The Same 3 as you i wood not right any of them off Like you have Donn with Liz and Jaz it could be any of thane in the real Vote thee are a lot of Secret voters out there it be intesting to see how this pans out.

    in the Deputy i voted 1 Tom Watson 2 Caroline Flint 3 Stella Cresay 4 Ben Bradshaw

    Conference Committee Gloria De Pieo Michel Cashman

    South East Victoria Groulef

  22. john P Reid says:

    Luke Akehurst said that If corbyn leads us into the next election we could get 17% of the vote, i can’t see many of our current ex votes going Tory, so the majority would go Libdem with a few more to UKIP
    just typed in on 17.5% Labour, 38% Tory,it predcited laobur would get 106 MPs at the next election Tory majoirt of 148

    just looked up who’s got the 107 most safe labour seat ,it’s Tom watson

  23. John P Reid says:

    Swat, you say that Corbyn will stand down in 2018 if we’re far behind in the polls, but as most labour voters who tell polls that they’ll vote libdem it won’t show us,far behind the Tories as we were only 7% this time,
    But look at the viciousness of Corbyn supporters in the Internet,will they be prepared to see their choice stand down for a moderate, they’ll scream blue murder

  24. TC says:

    For me it’s Corbyn 1st and Cooper 2nd. I’m on the left, so having someone who’s not afraid to call himself a socialist and argue for left-wing policies is important to me. Like many, I have been genuinely excited by what Corbyn has achieved during this short campaign. The number of people up and down the country joining the Labour Party, going to meetings, and getting involved in different ways has been inspiring. It feels like the start of something important.

    Cooper, while quite a bit to the right of me and not exactly setting the world on fire with her oratory, has run a decent campaign and set out a few policies that I could get behind. If that sounds like faint praise, it’s because it is, but she’s better than the other two and has done enough to get my second preference.

    I’m not interested in Kendall’s ‘fresh start’, which seems to mean a meek surrender to the Tories on most substantive issues. I just can’t see grassroots members being willing to put in the hard yards for her.

    When the campaign started I was considering a vote for Burnham, but his performance since then has been very poor. He’s come across as someone who’ll say anything to gain some small advantage; there’s no substance, no backbone.

    John P. Reid,

    With all due respect to Luke Akehurst, predicting vote percentages nearly 5 years out from polling day is at best a fool’s errand and at worst baseless scaremongering. There are many things that may change the political landscape to consider: the state of the economy in 2020, events surrounding the EU referendum, the Conservative Party leadership contest, the Chilcot Report and the paedophilia scandal, not to mention nearly 5 years’ worth of events.

    No one knows what the political battleground will be like in 5 years time, but we need to get out there and start trying to change it in our favour, instead of consenting to fight once again, at an obvious disadvantage, on the enemy’s chosen terrain.

  25. The problem with Kendall, Cooper, and Burnham is they are all economically illiterate.

    You don’t have to be an ultra-lefty that as a currency issuer, the economics of government are not the economics of a household.

    All Labour politicians understood that in the pre Mrs Thatcher era!

    Keynesian economics plus a commitment to NATO could still be a winning combination for the Labour right!

  26. madasafish says:


    If you are a believer in Keynesian economics, no doubt you will be telling the Government that as the economy is growing strongly, it should be running a surplus… so it should cut spending.

  27. swatantra says:

    Caroline has not said one bad word about any of her competitors for DL.
    And she will work well with JC.

  28. Tafia says:

    In general opinion polls, Labour have been below 30% in most since before the leadershiop elections were called and the candidates named. Sinxce it started it’s moved very little as an average.

    Bizarrely, if you start naming the candidates then as a party they drop even lower ( meaning the public has little time for any of the four), with Corbyn, Burnham and Cooper equal within the margin of error and Kendall woefully behind.

    Basically, whoever wins is going to need what the public view as a radically different set of major policies in subjects that the public are interested in (as opposed to the politicians themselves) and a significantly different direction they wish to take the country or the public wont see the point of changing their vote and will stay as they are unless the tories drop a major clanger in their last year (which is the only year that counts in public perception really).

  29. Mike Homfray says:

    Liz Kendall and her right wing ideas the future? No. Don’t think so. She will come fourth

    New Labour and its politics need burying for good. If people want to resurrect it start a centre party

  30. Landed Peasant says:

    Lets cut to the chase here, when Corbyn win, and he is going to win, Labour is going to fall apart, likely before the new year. The polls will nosedive in England, which is, lets be honest, the only place that matters in electoral terms right now, power hungry centre left ex cabinet/shadow ministers will be in open revolt upon facing a 5 year career hiatus and the prospect of losing their seats in a General Election bloodbath, or sooner if Corbyn pushes for reselection. Money is going to dry up with both the loss of big private donors and the “opt in” to the union political levy (if less than 200k union members can be bothered to register to vote for leader just how many do you think will opt in for the payment) and the first time JC orders a 3 line whip people will simply laugh in his face and hand him a copy of his voting record.

    Why do you think Cameron is reconsidering standing down? Unless he blows it over Europe 2020 is looking like a walkover. And that is before we factor in the drop to 600 MPs and constituancy rebalance.

  31. Madasafish says:

    Landless Peasant has written a post I agree with.

    I’ll go and lie down 🙂

  32. Historyintime says:

    Obviously JC wins. He then very probably but not certainly proves inadequate as a leader Which sets up a new leadership election or ideally a managed transition However none of the three non left in this election have added to their stature. So who takes over?

  33. John P Reid says:

    Madasafiah ,it was landed peasant who wrote that!

    If landless peasant had wrote it, I’d be joining you,

  34. John P Reid says:

    Mike homfray, how dare you tell people who’ve been in labour for decades to start a centre party,when you’ve only been a continuous member for 5 years, you could leave join the SWP

  35. Luke says:

    I’ve been thinking about this recently and am not inspired by any of the candidates – none sets the world alight with their oratory or can I see reaching out to the people we need to get to vote for Labour.

    None has that something extra that Blair, Benn, Healey, Livingstone, Boris or Cameron has to reach out to ‘normal’ people who engage with politics only every five years in Northampton, Gloucester, Bristol, Wolverhampton, Dartford or Stevenage or wherever where being a professional Northener makes no headway and being Tory-lite cuts no mustard. Having been a party member for 20+ years I know the absolute necessity of first being elected.

    I think that Cooper is the best of those standing but she doesnt really inspire me but until someone else comes along she seems the only sensible choice.

    So what to do? I think on reflection I will ‘lend’ Kendall my vote to ensure that the important progress modernising stream of the party is not humiliated and can continue to play a part and I hope that Cooper can grow into the role and unify the party. So its Kendall 1 Cooper 2 for me

  36. Madasafish says:

    John P Reid.


    I’ve had a lie down anyway:-)

  37. Tafia says:

    John P Reid Mike homfray, how dare you tell people who’ve been in labour for decades to start a centre party

    Just remember what Harperson said and what Burnham and Cooper supported – that if you leave because your candidate of choice didn’t win, you were never Labour to start with and that whoever wins, it is the duty of every party member to get behind them and give them their full support (even though Cooper is also saying she won’t serve on the front bench under Corbyn – making her a tad hypocritical to say the least).

    So come Corbyn’s coronation it will be interesting to see who is and who is not Labour won’t it.

  38. john P Reid says:

    and those saying I’ll eave if X wins, then suddenly don’t leave because they realises with FPTP, there’s no way their views can get, mass appeal, if they think getting their views to be implemented by getting mass appeal, I appreciate there maybe a few right winger’s who’ll retire form politics and hold their nose vote Libdem in 2020 an d a few who’ll join the greens on the left who feel doing badly but voting anyway is a moral victory

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