Monday 17 February 2020

Those Labour Leadership Candidates

And now they are three.  Who's your favourite?

There is a strong element of caricature about Rebecca "Becky" Long-Bailey, leftie geekette par excellence.  What an agonisingly careful path she has to tread: not Continuity Corbyn, oh dear me no - and so confident of victory in December she "didn't have her campaign ready to go until January".  The bollocks she didn't - she had a very serviceable personal logo in place during the GE campaign itself (some say she was the only Parliamentary candidate to have one - can that be right?), and a website up immediately thereafter (albiet a really poor one).  Oh, the ducking and diving over her position on anti-semitism.

Actually there is something very interesting about her, namely that very geekiness she reeks of.  In her Shadow Cabinet roles she was responsible for two very large pieces of policy work, both risible but both the product of long hours, many contributors, and much serious attempt to build on convoluted leftist theory.  She's very proud of the second - Labour's 2019 "Green Industrial Revolution" policy we've looked at here before.  In keeping with all this midnight oil-burning (oh, the CO2 footprint haha!) she's also just published her "worked-out path to power".  It is deadly, deadly dull: you could no more summarise it in a couple of catchy bullets than you could their manifesto.  (It claims to have "four key elements" but in the ten minutes I was willing to spend reading I couldn't find them!)  Hasn't Team Becky learned anything from the 2019 GE?  On the other hand, why would we expect them to have learned ...

Kier Starmer was clearly 110% ready at 22:01 hrs on 12 December - probably several months sooner, in fact - and has charted a clear strategic course.  Entertainingly, he has decided to outflank Long-Bailey on the left! - e.g. being the only one declining to be labelled a Zionist, and many other carefully-chosen statements besides [see UPDATE below].  He's clearly giving her campaign all manner of headaches.  Temperamentally, Lefties would very much prefer to hate him roundly, but they find it very difficult to do so based on his carefully-crafted leadership campaign pronouncements to date: the half-attempts to rubbish him are mostly (a) Brexit and (b) "he surely doesn't believe a word of what he's saying".  There are also some subtle attempts to dig out stuff about his time at the CPS, but he's framed his past quite cleverly right from the off.

You could feel quite sorry for Lisa Nandy, who is self-evidently the most genuine person out there, albeit quite muddle-headed on all sorts of issues.  Apparently her style is quite winning at the hustings, so perhaps she can look after herself, even if she isn't fronting for a really determined and well-organised power-grab like her two rivals.

This weekend has seen a truly entertaining - and, in its own way, important - new front opening up: are you for bonkers-trans-policy, or against?  This one doesn't, I think, fall easily into a left/right divide: by no means all hard-leftists are fervent identitarians, and some proper marxists are strongly anti.  (In this way it's a bit like Brexit/Lexit.)  Notwithstanding the opportunistic efforts of the bonkers-trans movement to cement a no-compromise, expel-them-all line within Labour (comparable to anti-antisemitism), there can surely be no real prospect of success: but there could be a lot of (red) blood spilled in the process.  Since we need the issue properly sorting in the public sphere (while we have Tory idiots like Penny Mordaunt out there), having the arguments thrashed out publicly in the Labour Party (and concommitantly in the Grauniad, where there are voices on both sides, albeit there's much pussyfooting on the sane side) is no bad thing.

*   *   *   *   *
What's an outsider to think?  I can't imagine Tories are flocking to join Labour in order to vote for RL-B, as many claim to have done for Corbyn in 2015.  All in all, I'm guessing Nandy just doesn't have the requisite voting-bloc and that it's down to Starmer in a desperate race to corner enough leftist votes to short-circuit RL-B's apparent heir-to-Corbyn advantage.  In his favour: the decisive strategy; evident ruthlessness (which is both functionally useful, and attractive to people looking for a winner); and the fact that he's apparently considered papabile.  (Plus, perhaps everyone knows he doesn't mean a word of it!)   Against?  Well, he's not a woman, which is clearly being played for all it's worth.

For my money, there's the possibility of a neat outcome here.  Starmer is making sufficiently good ground that many lefties are having to confront the distinct possibility he can do it.  Their fallback position must surely be to capitalise on his leftward thrust by hedging him in with so many "binding" "socialist" commitments, he'll be a properly trussed chicken by the time it's all over.  That could unravel in a quite amusing way over the coming years.

Only, errrr, seven weeks to wait!


UPDATE:  Starmer is attempting to codify his left-flanking manoeuvre with "10 Pledges".  He can't fool Owen Jones


Anonymous said...

You didn't read it then as it says at the bottom

My plan – based on

* aspirational socialism,
* a green industrial revolution,
* empowering our movement and
* a democratic revolution

– is our path back to power.

Yup soundbites e.g. Brexit means Brexit, and vague political "science".

I'm off to watch some paint dry.

Nick Drew said...

I said - I only lasted 10 minutes!

Anonymous said...

Are you allowed to say "pussyfooting"?

Raedwald said...

The crying shame of it all is that they're not picking a leader to head-up Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, or even to offer to voters in 2024, but contestants in a factional internal fight as far removed from voters as it's possible to be.

Starmer is the closet reformer, the Kinnock. If he wins he'll repair party democracy and undo the Corbyn / Momentum changes

RLB is the continuity Corbyn candidate, obv, intent on cementing the hold of the hard left on the party

Poor Lisa Nandy, the only candidate that may resonate with voters, and the only one that comes across as caring about voter issues, will be elbowed out, I'll bet.

Neither the depressive with the grey face as long as a snake's bottom or the purse-mouthed Mekon even registers with the public. So I think they've written off the May LG elections and all the coming action will be not on the hustings but within NEC and the Autumn conference.

Meanwhile there are some Labour local plums ripe for plucking (can we say 'plums' any more?) and I hope CCHQ is sufficiently on the ball to take advantage of the chaos ...

andrew said...


wake me up just after the next GE.
absent $something_really_bad happening the next lab leader is the one to think about as they are the one with a chance.

In the meantime I look forward to the Arturo Ui administration making the busses run on time.

Elby the Beserk said...

If Starmer is the answer - WTF is the question?
If RLB is the answer - WTF is the question?
If whoever else (I've lost interest...) is the answer... oh well, you know.

My Gpod. What a clutch of no hopers

E-K said...


It's the choice between Banjo Boy out of Deliverance (Mong Bailey) or Blow Hard (the Bond villain lookalike.)

AndrewZ said...

The danger is that the next Labour leader might be able to put a moderate face on the party while its internal structures remain under the control of the extreme left. It might then be able to scrape a working majority in the next election or the one after by running a centrist campaign, and then steadily move to the left after gaining power. The difficult part would be getting the Momentum mob to accept that they had to dissimulate because the voters genuinely did reject them in 2019.

tolkein said...

I'd vote for Nandy - and I do have a vote. After 2015 I had to disinfect my keyboard as online wouldn't let me abstain for my 4th (in fact, never) preference - Corbyn.

I think the best Labour can hope for is Starmer (who looks like a real smoothie to me), he loses in 2024 with a smartened up campaign and no anti-semitism and Labour realise they actually need to listen to voters. Optimistic? Maybe. But the country needs a proper Opposition, and that means a credible alternative to the Government.

Charlie said...


The Momentum mob will never accept that they were rejected by voters. As far as they're concerned, it's all the fault of the right-wing meeja - they brainwashed stupid Northerners doncha know - and those stupid Northerners deserve everything they get under the evil Tory dictatorship.

Jan said...

If the new person is supposed to lead the party to a victory in the next GE then it needs to be someone with a modicum of gravitas. I hate to say it but the two women candidates don't have any at all so I suppose that means Kier will get it as the least worse option.

Matt said...

@ Jan

Women only short lists lead to more intelligent women in politics surely? How can these two, who are supposed to be the cream of Labour women, be so hopelessly crap?

Maggie would have wiped the floor with any of them.

Anonymous said...

Starmer is the Continuity Blair choice.

And there is no anti-semitism, there's just the awful prospect of a leader who might be relatively neutral vis a vis the rights of Israelis and Palestinians.

Anonymous said...

AndrewZ - Labour were rejected mainly due to the Second Referendum poison pill that Starmer and Co got into the manifesto. Admittedly the anti-semitism lies in the media didn't help, but up in Durham people were (rightly IMHO) more bothered by his closeness to Sinn Fein/IRA.

Elby the Beserk said...

tolkein said...
I'd vote for Nandy - and I do have a vote. After 2015 I had to disinfect my keyboard as online wouldn't let me abstain for my 4th (in fact, never) preference - Corbyn.

Is that the same Nandy who thinks male child rapists should be housed in women's prisons? Or another one?

andrew said...

Thatcher had little gravitas until after she became the con party leader. Then it sort of 'grew' on her slowly.

Two of the reasons she won (the first time) was that
A The lab govt was seen as useless
B She had (credible) policies that appealed to a majority of the electorate

The current generation of lab politicians dont seem to understand B

Bill Quango MP said...

I do have a vote. Last time, I voted for Corbyn.
Which was fun. And should have been a way to destroy labour. And it was.
But there were a few Scares along the way,

I did not bank on May being so awful, she almost allowed the joke emperor, to become crowned.
So it’s too risky to vote for the madman/madwoman again. Just in case they somehow manage to seize power.

E-K said...

I'd never do that, BQ.

It really does debase democracy.

E-K said...

So what do we think of Boris so far ?

Nick Drew said...

I'd say the boy done good, Kev (see post on his Greenwich speech)

And why hasn't he been seen for 9 days?!? (+;