by Atul Hatwal
Labour’s leadership race needs to become a lot less comradely. Last night’s debate was a pedestrian trot through the expected.
There was little direct challenge with even less to enlighten members on how these candidates would bear up when facing the Tory meat-grinder.
This has to change.
Gordon Brown serenely glided through his selection without having once been put under the type of pressure the Tories subsequently exerted on him every day.
While his disastrous leadership was little surprise to several of those who had worked with him at close quarters in government, for the rest of the Labour party his inability to deal with sustained political attack was a nightmarish revelation.
Ed Miliband triumphed without once having been robustly challenged on his innate lack of electability or an economic platform that totally ignored the judgement of the British people at the 2010 election.
Yet again, the Labour party was largely unprepared for what the Tories did to him.
This time, the membership need to see the leadership contenders run through their paces in a live-fire environment.
US primaries vet their aspirants in a way British parties’ leadership elections rarely do. Obama was a far better candidate for having faced Hillary and her 3am call ad.
The Tories need to be introduced into Labour’s leadership election.
What would they do to these candidates?
Andy Burnham is in many respects the ideal contender on paper. Experienced, decent and committed.
But he was also chief secretary to the Treasury just before the crash and opposed a full public inquiry for Mid Staffs as secretary of state for health.