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Daily View: Labour leadership contest

Clare Spencer | 10:02 UK time, Friday, 4 June 2010

Commentators discuss the Labour leadership contest.

Melissa Ben explains in the Guardian why she thinks the leadership contest is significant:

"Over the past 10 years, there has been a fatal disconnect between party and leadership, be it on the Iraq war or education policy. Party members talk of the weakness of the National Policy Forum and the ease with which Labour leaders have ignored unwelcome views. This has not only ruptured trust between the ground and the leadership but it weakens Labour in the face of the Con-Lib coalition who are now taking frequently unpopular schemes, such as the academies policy much further than any one in Labour dared or imagine.

"Without renewed trust between leaders and members, all talk of reinvigorating local democracy will be sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Shamik Das predicts in Left Foot Forward that there may be a lot of candidates:

"[I]t is still possible for all six candidates - David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott - to make it onto the ballot paper... [O]f the 258 Labour MPs, 90 have yet to formally nominate. Excluding Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman, both of whom will not name a preference, and excluding the seven MPs like Alistair Darling who have publically declared for a candidate but are yet to nominate, this leaves 81 nominations up for grabs - more than enough to be spread around."

Gerry Hassan argues in the Guardian that none of the candidates has a sense of what Britain is:

"All the Labour candidates assume a narrow focus on 'Britain' that is completely unnamed and unexplored, because it is taken as a given. This is a problem on many levels, because it does not take into account the way Britain has changed over the decades, economically, socially and politically, nor the ways New Labour has changed Britain for better and for worse.

"Labour's understanding of Britain has always embraced the conventional view that the UK is a unitary state: one of parliamentary sovereignty and unchallenged Westminster power. Yet the UK is not and never has been a unitary state; it is a union state, made up of different parts and national arrangements. A unitary state would not have allowed for the maintenance of Scottish autonomy that was guaranteed in the Treaties of Union of 1707. Despite this, Fabianism bought into a unitary state interpretation of the UK that has become more and more problematic."

John Rentoul says in the Independent that if too many candidates are up for selection, it will be damaging:

"I simply cannot believe the softheadedness of some colleagues who think it would all be jolly nice and pluralist if poisonous anti-Labour elements such as John McDonnell should be included in leadership election.


"If he is wrong, he is wrong, and we should be relieved that there are fewer than 33 Labour MPs deluded enough to disagree."

Andrew Gilligan says in the Telegraph that the London Mayoral elections are much more important for Labour than the leadership contest:

"Almost unnoticed amid the (comparative) excitement of the Labour leadership race, the party is sleepwalking to disaster in its first big electoral test since losing power.

"The 2012 contest to be Mayor of London is the most significant poll between now and the next general election. The campaign goes on for months, with enormous media interest, making it a clear marker of whether Labour can come back nationally."

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