The Labour leadership contest is currently moving through the motions, Jeremy Corbyn is running streets ahead of Andy Burnham, who trails in second place in the polls released last week. Mr Corbyn, lacking an airbrushed persona and distinct lack of TV prowess, is the popular choice amongst local constituency groups, the alienated youth and those who see the future of Labour shifting away from the center-ground. Corbyn was only added to the ballot to widen the policy discussion. However, having assumed a prominent position in the contest, he is now being harangued by his fellow contestants and directionless Labour MPs. To those within the Labour party brave enough to admit it and by gleeful Conservative supporters, the leadership contest only highlights how damaged the Labour party is.
The Labour party appears to have endorsed rank-and-file tribalism, the kind of in-fighting which damages credibility amongst the electorate. Many life-long Labour supporters who I have spoken too, voters since the 1950s and 1960s, are disillusioned with the current crop. Corbyn has revived a maligned 1980s policy, factionalism and the memory of three straight election defeats – even if that wasn’t his intention! Andy Burnham, a front-runner in my opinion has a list of admirers within the Labour movement. Lord Prescott is a fan, whilst Dan Jarvis MP, who should also have stood, is backing Andy Burnham. The former health minister is surely the safest choice and heir to the Blairite throne, right?
Moving on, Liz Kendall has also being harangued by the press like Jeremy Corbyn, but for being more of a soft Conservative than a “radical”. Liz Kendall wants the Labour party to appeal to the middle classes, stealing back the supporters who deserted them back in May. Kendall, part of the 2010 intake of MPs, will be vying for the support of the Blairite faction alongside Andy Burnham. Liz Kendall has spoken out of her desire to draft a Labour blueprint for 2020 and beyond, something which Ed Miliband failed to address when drawing up his election campaign this year. Kendall has made an enemy in the form of the union bosses, claiming they should have no say in the new leader…time will tell if this proves to be her downfall.
Yvette Cooper is also standing in the leadership contest, but has yet to ignite her campaign. Falling to third in the polls, it does beg the question whether Cooper has the ability to bring change to the Labour party. Her past, working under both Blair and Brown may prove to be her Achilles Heel, a problem which Andy Burnham shares. She certainly has good policy initiatives such as the free childcare for all. However, having fallen behind in the polls, unless Andy Burnham or Jeremy Corbyn have a major wobble I doubt she will be leader come September.
Moving slightly aside of the four contestants. I believe that whoever is voted in as the new Labour leader, they will only be fulfilling a caretaker duty. Whether Corbyn, Burnham, Cooper or Kendall are installed as the new Labour juggernaut, come 2019 David Miliband will be back as the knight in shining armour. David, returning home from his American adventure, is the best bet at leading the party he left in 2013, to 2020 election success.
Wild punt or distinct possibility? Let me know in the comments and while you are at it, please take part in the DPV Labour leadership poll below.
By James Metcalfe, Editor of Daily Political View.