A week following the Labour Party’s loss at the UK general elections, a new leader is needed. Battle has commenced with 4 MPs so far declaring their interest – Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Mary Creagh. Few more MPs I hear – such as Tristan Hunt – are also considering joining the race.
Sadly, Chuka Umunna – a leading contender – withdrew on Friday from the leadership race citing press intrusion into his wider family and friends. “(press) allegedly doorstepping his (Chuka) family, including his girlfriend’s 102-year-old grandmother – is this really how “media scrutiny” should work in Britain in 2015?” – The Guardian
My only question to Chuka on his withdrawal – What would you have done last week if Labour had won the elections, you were appointed to a top Cabinet post and the press were equally intrusive?
But from the current cast is there a stand out candidate? Will the new leader come from the four names? Or is there still a dark horse?
The questions Labour Party members – who will chose in September – must decide on when casting their vote include:
- Who is best candidate to take on David Cameron’s austerity programme?
- Who can defeat the next Tory leader i.e. George Osborne, Boris Johnson or Theresa May?
- Who can best help win back former Labour supporters in Scotland?
- Who can connect with voters in the Midlands, The North, South and Scotland?
- Who can win back former Labour supporters who voted UKIP?
The Labour Party now has only 232 MPs in Parliament. Their lowest number of MPs since 1987. Given that the leadership nominees must have at least 35 MPs to nominate them the final number of leadership challengers will probable be 6.
Finally the Labour Party needs a leader that can inspire the electorate to vote for the party in droves at local elections – across England, Scotland and Wales – in 2016.
Labour Party Deputy Leadership Race
Some Labour MPs have put their names forward to run solely for the deputy leadership of the party. Caroline Flint, Tom Watson have declared such intentions and my former MP Stella Creasy is likely to run as well. Flint in partcular should have gone for the Leadership.
I find a deputy leadership race a waste of time and uninspiring. If MPs like Creasy are running solely to be deputy, are they saying they do not consider themselves good enough to be leader of the Party?
Why shouldn’t the Labour leader chose his or her own deputy? If the leader is free to chose their own Shadow Cabinet team then why can’t they chose their own deputy as well. That’s if a deputy leader role is really necessary. As I feel the number 2 in the party should be a person like the shadow chancellor which is the most influential ministerial portfolio.
Maybe the leadership challengers should run alongside their preferred choice for deputy leader.
Mayor of London
It is critical for Labour’s long term fortunes that they win next year’s Mayor of London race when Boris Johnson leaves office.
The current Labour MPs who have declared so far for the Mayoral ticket include MPs Diane Abbott, David Lammy and Sadiq Khan. Former Labour Minister Tessa Jowell may also run.
Since the Mayor of London post came into being (in 2000) 2 have been elected by Londoners;
- Ken Livingstone – who ran as an Independent candidate (after Labour Party expulsion) for 2000-2004 term, then for the Labour Party 2004-2008
- Boris Johnson, Conservative Party 2008 – present.
Both Boris and Ken are renowned for their maverick personality which seems to appeal to the average voter in London. Does Labour have to chose a respected maverick and not a “establishment” politician? Abbott is the most maverick of those declared but maybe too left wing to appeal to centrist Londoners.
Labour has had an abysmal record in the Mayoral race since the first election in 2000. Labour has only won once and that was when incumbent Independent Ken Livingstone returned from expulsion and won the 2004 elections. After losing as a Labour candidate to Boris Johnson in 2008 a tired Livingstone was selected again by Labour to run in 2012. Boris won again.
Labour members in London will have to decide who realistic can beat the Tory candidate in areas of Surrey and West London. Who can win votes from former Lib Dem supporters.
Hopefully more solid candidates will put their names forward. But so far Jowell looks the ideal candidate to appeal to a cross section of Londoners.
“She was the political driving force behind our bid to host the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and an inseparable part of their ultimate success. I will be forever grateful for the role she played in both.” – Seb Coe, 2015
My choice for the Labour ticket would have been Umunna long before he declared (then aborted) his Labour leadership intentions. Richard Branson comes to mind but his offshore financing may prove contentious.
Then there is Alan Sugar who could be appealing now that he has resigned from Labour Party.