Who I am voting for and why….
Today is the day, Royal Mail and the variances of the postal system permitting, that Labour Party members start to receive their ballot papers in a crucial leadership election which will shape not just our Party but have a large role in shaping the nature of the opposition to this government. So, without much ado here is who I am voting for in preferential order:-
- Ed Miliband – As the campaign has progressed the younger Miliband has grown and shown he has a distinctive vision for the future of the Party which, crucially, chimes with the needs of the moment. This doesn’t mean I agree with every dot and comma (I don’t with any of the candidates) but it does mean that overall I think Ed is the one who ‘gets it’ about where we have gone wrong in the past and where we need to go.
- Ed Balls – I absolutely oppose his views on immigration but having said that he has been the star of the leadership contest when it comes to taking the fight to the Coalition both over education and the economy. On the economy especially he has convinced me he has what it takes to help Labour fashion the new economic narrative I have called for numerous times. I don’t think he should be leader as my initial concerns remain but he certainly, without a shadow of a doubt, should replace Alistair Darling as Shadow Chancellor no matter who takes the number 1 slot. This vote is to tactically bolster his claim to that position as much as help him in the leadership ballot.
- Andy Burnham – Some interesting ideas on taxation have been overshadowed by his obsession with trying to insert the NHS into every argument he makes. The national care service and his taxation proposals should be adopted as policy by the victor. However, he is a little too socially illiberal for my tastes policy wise. Andy has also risen his stock as personable and genuine and is clearly a capable minister but he does not carry enough gravitas to be leader. The shadow health brief will hopefully give him some consolation.
- David Miliband – He would have been higher on my list but the last few weeks have seen him slide. In person, he is a perfectly genuine and affable person however that is not good enough and he has become the anthesis of his brother. His campaign has polish and prose but the substance is sorely lacking and actually is the stale remains of a failed yesterday. This hollow core was exposed in May 2010 and a vote for David is a vote for politics that has had its heyday and its time is past. His defence over British complicity in torture is lackluster and unconvincing. I have serious doubts whether he will unite the Party; although sections of the left maybe under his spell for the moment I would not expect that to last and I see division and disunity scarring a David Miliband leadership. Given his campaigns resort to negative briefing and spin I see a return to the insipid poison that seeped through the Parties veins during the Blair years – no wonder Peter Mandleson endorses him.
- Diane Abbott – Ironically, the candidate whose policies I probably most support is at the bottom. Her campaign has been a disaster for the left because it hasn’t been about those policies and their worthiness or otherwise. It has been about Diane Abbott the individual pitching for votes on the basis of gender and ethnicity. She has missed an opportunity to really add to the leadership debate and has even been behind the likes of Ed Balls when it comes to commentary on the deficit. Her campaign in the closing stages seems to have vanished without a trace – something that rather says it all.