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Daily View: Labour leadership contest

Clare Spencer | 09:23 UK time, Thursday, 10 June 2010

Commentators discuss the ongoing Labour leadership contest.

The Telegraph editorial says the contest is significant for Britain:

"It is tempting to dismiss the Labour leadership contest as something of an irrelevant distraction from the 'new politics' offered by the coalition Government. But the person chosen to lead Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition could be prime minister within a few years. This is a less fanciful prospect than it was when the Tories lost in 1997 and William Hague was elected Opposition leader. Then, the Conservatives were reduced to a rump of just 165 seats, an electoral low-point from which they could not recover to secure a majority even 13 years later. Labour, by contrast, retains 258 seats in the Commons and is well placed to mount a challenge for power. The choice of who leads the party matters a great deal."

The Guardian editorial suggests that Diane Abbott's candidacy has made it an interesting contest:

"Labour remains weary and wounded by defeat. But from the banks to social care, it is not merely that party, it is Britain as a whole that stands in dire need of fresh thinking to challenge failed orthodoxies. None of the contenders have so far articulated it, but by short-circuiting nomination rules that were drawn up during Labour's long years of control-freakery, the party's high command has at least shown itself to be up for the discussion. They have also given us all a contest worth watching - instead of a summer-long snooze."

The Daily Mail's sketch writer Quentin Letts explains why he supports Diane Abbott:

"Cambridge-educated Miss Abbott (Hackney N) is clever. She speaks human. She is not some suited, skinny, blinky Milipede. She is a TV natural (she once worked for GMTV and I am told learned much under John Birt) and is probably better known to the non-political public than any of the blokes. In many respects she is a better candidate than former Foreign Secretary Miliband (D), former Environment Secretary Miliband (E), the bulgy-eyed Balls and the decent but gentle mannered Andy Burnham.
"Miss Abbott certainly wins the parliamentary sketch writers' vote. Those refined, gushy, Claire Rayner-ish phrases, delivered with a melodramatic flash of the eyes. That bejewelled wardrobe, glinting under the lights like a distant spear tip."

Blogger Mike Smithson shows in Political Betting where support is expected to come from:

"Trade Unions: Ed Balls is the 50% favourite which looks a good bet.
Party Members: Here Andy Burnham is the 42% favourite which looks crazy to me.
MPs and MEPs: Ed Miliband has moved in early trading to the favourite slots at 50% - again I think that's crazy."

In the Independent Steve Richards explains what he thinks are the necessary skills for the leader of the opposition:

"After Gordon Brown's failure to connect with the public, there is an obvious need for Labour's next leader to have the necessary presentational skills. That is a pre-condition to success and not enough in itself. I recall Brown noting privately that, as Prime Minister, he could not find the language to convey what he was trying to do, as if this was an optional extra. It is not.
"But such necessary skills will not bring about success unless they are accompanied by a clear analysis of how to beat the coalition and, in particular, what form Labour's economic policy will take between now and the next election. It is not fashionable these days to cite Brown as a model, but what he did in relation to Labour's economic policy after the party's fourth election defeat in 1992 was a significant achievement, starting from an even more impossible position than the next Labour leader will do. From the beginning he ruthlessly understood what was required politically to make Labour trusted on the economy, and over time, with the help of others, fleshed out policies that met the essential political objectives."

The Times editorial suggests that the Labour party needs to do some soul-searching and connect with the electorate:

"There is no clamour among the people for more government, and any candidate that poses state action as the default solution is not so much wrong as beside the point.
"The country needs a Labour Party that does not speak only to itself, even during an internal election. There is an opportunity for an honest audit of what was good and what was bad in 13 years of government. The candidate who provides a plain and fair analysis of the Labour Party's past will be the one best equipped for its future."

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