“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King, Jr
- Andy Burnham. Pros – I like Andy, he has stood up for values which I share consistently and powerfully for many years. He is an accomplished media performer and has support from a wide section of the party. Cons – I would like to see a woman lead the Labour Party if possible. It seems unfair to discriminate against Andy for this reason, however. Also, our defeat was so fundamental last month that it might be necessary to steer away from the last regime. Andy would do well in PMQs against Cameron but would it look too much like the last 5 years? Maybe.
- Yvette Cooper. Pros – Again, Yvette is very good on TV. She is calm and confident and definitely a match for any opponent. PMQs would be very uncomfortable for Cameron and the strident SNP would find her a difficult target to hit. In the wider media, Yvette would present a new politics breaking with the stale yah-boo tradition which has turned so many people off. Cons – One word: “#EdBalls”. Mr Cooper was great fun as shadow chancellor and got nearly every call right but he is central to the previous regime in many people’s minds. If we decide we need to make a clean cut with the last 5 years then this might be a distraction.
- Mary Creagh. Pros – I met Mary briefly at a meeting of the Southern group of Labour MPs. Admittedly, it was a very sympathetic audience but she really commanded the room. She was shadow transport secretary then and answered a range of questions, including mine, confidently and knowledgably. I remember thinking at the time that it would be brilliant if she was in government – talented, determined, convincing. Cons – Mary is not that well known among the wider public so her first few months as leader would be critical in setting the scene.
- Liz Kendall. Pros – Liz’s leadership campaign started early and hit the ground running. She is offering a break from the previous regime, which failed and now looks like a failure. If Labour is to win in 2020 we will need to address national identity and present a big vision about what it means to be British. Now, any of the other serious candidates could do this too but perhaps Liz’s supporters have been the first to grasp this. Cons – Liz is not as assured a media performer as the other three, in my opinion, but she hasn’t had as much practice yet. Like Mary, she is not very well known in the country so would have to get off to a good start.
Some deputy leader candidates
- Ben Bradshaw. Pros – Ben understands what it takes to win in the South and why we failed in May. I personally heard him tell Ed Miliband about 6 months before the election about southern voters’ concerns. He was spot on. Cons – I wouldn’t like to see an all-male, all-white leadership pair.
- Stella Creasy. Pros – Community campaigning. Regular readers will know that this is the foundation of my politics. Stella’s USP is successful grassroots activism. Could this be the route to one million members and inevitable electoral successes? Cons – What about the South outside London where we are thin on the ground? What about Scotland?
- Caroline Flint. Pros – Very popular among members, especially in Surrey. Great in TV debates and interviews. Cons – Maybe associated with the previous regime.
- Tom Watson. Pros – Strong media performer and supported by a wide section of the party. Likeable and friendly. Cons – White male, which would be a problem if the leader was also white male.
- Others – Labour is lucky that we have many great potential deputy leaders in addition to those above. I will be listening to everyone’s pitch, especially Rushanara Ali and Angela Eagle.
Anyway, I haven’t decided who to vote for yet. I’m looking forward to the campaign and I hope to help out in some way after nominations have closed and I have made up my mind on who to support. The good news is that all of the serious candidates are very strong propositions so I will get behind whoever is eventually elected.