Can the next Labour leader act as a bridge between politics and people?

As it happens I seem to have acquired an irregular slot on Jonathan Lampon’s ‘Behind the Headlines’ slot on Radio Leicester to talk about UK politics. After a heads up from Jonathan’s team yesterday I found myself as one of an elite few watching the Labour leadership last night…

Here’s the resulting discussion from this morning:

There’s also some quick supplementary thoughts on this morning’s SluggerReport.. To which I’d add…

As John Curtice warned last night Scotland has all but disappeared from Labour’s public mind in a way that could make it permanent. He also produced a couple of charts based on shifts in voting intentions which show Labour gaining sentiment in almost every demographic except amongst those who most consistently vote:



One of the reasons this leadership contest is not setting any fires yet could be the hangover from a campaign in which three out of the four players might have reasonably expected to be holding down a ministerial brief. None of them, you get the impression wanted to be there.

The other is that they have barely begun to do what Martin Kettle argued they needed to do nearly a month ago, which is to figure out exactly what went wrong, and how they might go about fixing it.

Some of that, I have already argued, means repairing some of the bottom up damage in the wider Labour movement. They might do worse than learning from the successes of their old rivals on the right.

Oh, and not a word from Andy Burnham about organising in Northern Ireland…


  • WindowLean

    Against my better judgement I watched this. Totally uninspiring and poorly moderated by Kuenssberg. If I were a Tory I’d be hoping Cooper gets it (not Corbyn) as she’s closely associated with the New Labour balls up and I’d be hoping Kendall doesn’t get it as she appears to be a Tory.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    The Tories are rubbing their hands in glee to see this average lot slugging it out for the Labour leadership – a tired leader for a naval gazing party. It could be a Conservative generation if they, the Tories, manage not to fracture over Europe.

  • kensei

    Consult fee is in the post.

  • mickfealty

    Usual rates? [BTW, did you listen to the podcast?]

  • MainlandUlsterman

    As someone pointed out on the radio yesterday, the problem the candidates have at the moment is they are the victims of the timing of all this:
    – The process of working out what went wrong in the election is ongoing, so they are limited in what they can proclaim about what that means for future direction. Liz Kendall is in my view making an *rse of herself by jumping on the results to draw lessons that suit what she wants to do anyway. She’s not listening and analysing.
    – Then there’s also the fact that once leader, the new person will want to do some building of a team and working out a policy agenda *at that time*. They don’t want to be tied down by premature policy commitments made in the leadership campaign.

    So the leadership campaign is inevitably going to be a superficial affair. There is a hunger for substance among those watching it. But it just can’t deliver on that, not because the candidates have no ideas but because of the mechanics of the process.

    If it were otherwise, then we’d effectively be seeing the agenda for the next 5 years of Labour set now, on the basis of the individual views of one of the candidates and a few people around them at this stage. And in a state of relative ignorance about the full implications of the election for Labour. Strategically higgledy-piggledy and unlikely to produce Labour’s best re-positioning approach; or the best leader.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    On the leadership race itself, I think we’re looking for the following *at this stage*:
    – intellectual capability – for me Cooper is more capable than the others.
    – a solid media performer and that means looking authoritative and Prime Ministerial under journalistic scrutiny, especially on tv. Burnham has been done on toast by Andrew Neil in the past; Kendall’s actor-ish posturing on Newsnight a few weeks ago was a bit embarrassing, she seemed a little caught up in her own ‘strong leader’ self-projection. One of her many problems.
    – someone who can connect with ordinary people and “Middle Britain” – or rather, be accepted by them. Hoping to be inspirationally life-changing is not what real politics is about, it’s about getting enough goodwill and, the key thing, trust from people. They don’t want to know the minutiae – just trust they can leave the person to take care of what needs to be taken care of in a sensible way. And it needs to be someone who, if they say the priorities of the country need to change, people will trust to be broadly right, because they know they won’t do anything daft. Cooper again in the lead here, Burnham OK; Kendall may connect a little with the old Blair voters who have left, but she seems too lightweight and inexperienced to win a lot of trust.
    – someone who is pragmatic and adaptable, not an ideologue or navel-gazer – Cooper again here, Burnham’s OK on this. Kendall’s too obsessed with Labour turning right and Corbyn, well … The criticism is that Cooper is an empty vessel and too lacking in any conviction politics – and it is a slight weakness. But she has what Blair, Cameron and Major had, an ability to see where the centre of gravity is and plonk herself there. And smart enough to be able to explain a change of course in coherent terms that shows continuity with her previous positions.
    – and obviously not being a naive dupe to people of the moral stature of Sinn Fein – so Jeremy Corbyn is out. The sort of man who makes the Left a laughing stock. Praise for his passion and conviction is misplaced – lots of numbskulls have passion and conviction, join the queue Jeremy.

    I’ve been an Yvette Cooper supporter for the top job for some time, just to be open here. (Though for me Dan Jarvis ought to be groomed to be the next leader along, he has massive potential to be the leader Labour needs, it’s just too early for him and his family.) The election produced a bit of a dream result from the Cooper-for-leader point of view: Balls’ presence in the upper echelons was the main barrier, now he’s almost miraculously gone; and of course Ed M went, where the predicted election result would likely have had him in place for another 5 years. Seems too good an opportunity to miss now.