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!