Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The next Labour prime minister is not in this leadership election

Ed Miliband's approach to the last five years reminded me of Neil Kinnock's failure in the 1980s. Both thought that constantly reminding the voters how selfish Conservatives would be enough for Labour to win.

Yes, the Tories are extraordinarily selfish. The problem that Labour faces is that many voters agree with this analysis but still vote Conservative anyway.

In part this is because we are all selfish to some degree, but it also has a lot to do with Labour's inability to convince voters that they are competent to run the country.

It follows that in order to win Labour need to do something more than attack the Tories: they need to sound like a government in waiting.

Note that this does not necessarily mean sounding more right wing: it just means sounding different and more competent than they do at the moment.

The problem for Labour is that the candidates who have something to say - Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn - do not expect to win. That is why they can say what they really think.

The two front-runners, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, are so anxious about alienating different constituencies (the press, party members, the wider public) that they find it hard to say anything at all.

Mary Creagh and her short-lived candidacy gave the clearest example of this. Her replies to Justin Webb's questions were so convoluted that he had to summarise them for her.

For this reason I suspect that the next Labour prime minister is not taking part in this election. I also suspect that his name is Dan Jarvis.

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