Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Labour Leadership Contest Becomes Vaguely Interesting

It's been a long drawn out yawn to be honest but there are just a few flickers of interest to be discerned at present. The commentatariat seems to have streotyped the Milibands as: Ed, leftish and Brownite; David, rightish and Blairite. Apart from Ed's popularity with the unions I can't really see there is a huge gap between the two in terms of values and policy positions. In his Guardian interview piece David seemed to agree. What has been interesting though is the intervention of the old guard, eager to revive old battles and settle old scores.

Mandelson, has attacked Ed as Old Labour because he thinks he'll take the party backwards. I suspect he's just trying to stop the person Gordon would want to see win:

"I think that Ed is wrong when he describes New Labour as a comfort zone," Mandelson told the Times at the Edinburgh book festival. "I think that if he or anyone else wants to create a pre-New Labour future for the party then he and the rest of them will quickly find that that is an electoral cul-de-sac."

Ed was also capable of being Gordon's bootboy from time to time since 1997. Rising to the challenge Neil Kinnock has weighed in, praising Ed and dismissing Mandelson as an 'atavist'... 'indulging a personalised factioinalism' 'He should stop it now'. I suspect Neil is smarting from Peter's comprehensive put down of the Welshman in his memoirs in which he describes Neil as unable to understand the issues, grasp detail or even communicate effectively to voters. Neil is notoriously sensitive to crticism that he's intellectually not up to snuff.

The publication of Blair's memoirs tomorrow (my copy on way Amazon tells me) will also revive old animosities. Tony is supporting David but I'm sure David will have the nous to distance himself from someone who, despite his astonishing talents and three election victories, is now a fearful electoral liability to any person or party. Meanwhile Polly Toynbee does not miss the chance to put the boot into those two New Labour titans who so disappointed her:

Blair and Mandelson, now trying to meddle with the future, have had no new ideas for a decade: they would do well to go gracefully into their platinum-plated political retirement. If David Miliband were wise he would pick up the phone and blast Mandelson for his intervention. He would seize the next mic and chop him up in public. Spilling anti-Ed poison to the Times, which paid Mandelson more than £350,000 for his memoirs, is about as helpful to the elder brother's campaign as a gushing endorsement from Brown would be to Ed's chances. For his own sake, David should also warn Blair to keep his tanks off the lawn. At the same time he should publicly rebuke him for the appalling timing of his book this week as an act of selfish disregard for the Labour party, to whom he owes everything

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