Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

I think Ed Miliband will win in the end

With the news that there are 5 Labour MPs on the ballot for the leadership contest (nominations for which closed at 12:30 today) attention will now doubtless turn to which of them can actually win.

Having had a helping hand from people like Harriet Harman, Jack Straw and even David Miliband himself to get on the ballot, Diane Abbott will be pleased but even she would probably accept that she is very much an outsider and unlikely to win.

Ed Balls as I have discussed on here previously would be a disaster for the party in my opinion and from what I can tell quite a lot of Labour activists agree. A number have contacted me privately to say so.

Andy Burnham has amazing eyelashes but he never particularly impressed me as a minister and unless during the campaign we see some hitherto very well hidden aptitude for the top job I think he is unlikely to be victorious.

David Miliband has been the front runner for a long time but there are real question marks over his suitability for the job having so often baulked at the opportunity in the past. He could actually have made a big difference to what happened with Labour in the election last month if he had had more courage and gone for the top job earlier. My feeling is enough within Labour may well feel the same to scupper his chances. They would be well advised not to give the leadership to someone who lacks that killer instinct.

I have always rated Ed Miliband very highly and I think that he could emerge as the favourite over the course of the next few months. He generally comes across well on the media and certainly appears to be less wonkish than his older brother. He clearly has a genuine sense of humour as well. Of the five candidates I think he could win the party over.

If he is going to be a successful leader though, Ed will need to set out a clear platform that distances itself from the bad things that Labour did in office whilst keeping a strong link to the good things it did (there were some!). The fact that he was not an MP until 2005 and hence did not vote for the Iraq war unlike his brother may help in this respect. He needs to do what David Cameron managed in 2005 and essentially win permission from his party to change it. Then the public will know that Labour mean business again.

I am not going to go as far as putting any money on him. I know from previous experience how unpredictable these contests can be (how many predicted for example Harriet Harman would win the deputy leadership in 2007?). I did however predict that David Cameron would be the next Tory leader the day after the 2005 general election when there were still quite a few possibles in the field and he was far from the favourite. It was just a gut feeling I had and I am getting the same thing now with Ed Miliband.

The next few months will tell me if I am right about this.

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