Last Friday evening at Canary Wharf I attended a large hustings meeting for the Labour leadership. All candidates were present and answered questions from the floor. There was very little disagreement between them. Just a few cases of personal sniping.
I’m trending toward one of Miliband brothers. If I had to pick one it would be Ed. Why? Simply because he seems less tainted by Labour’s Blair/Brown past. He’s also outspoken on the environment and was impressive as Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. But I think David Miliband would be also ok; however, he’s got some form with Labour’s negative past. This “form” may be minimal, however. Either of the Milibands is acceptable to me.
I’m least impressed with Ed Balls. My hunch is that he’s, well, let’s just say, difficult. Difficult people are important to have but they often lack leadership abilities. Their personalities are often divisive. I think Andy Burnham is impressive. He’s particularly strong on the National Health Service. I’m not sure he’s ready to be the party’s leader, however. I would like to see him run the Department of Health again. He proposed a National Care Service to complement the National Health Service when he ran the NHS. I like this idea a lot and would love to see it happen. It’s a good idea of what a “Big Society” should be but any “Big Society” proposed by the ConDems, as they are, is going to be a return to a Victorian society when charity was a major force. Simply, I can’t trust anything the ConDems propose or do which is in principle a good idea because the way they will implement it will stay resonate with old Tory and conservative values.
Diane Abbot spoke well at the hustings meeting. I liked how she blanked the BBC Radio 4 interviewer yesterday when asked yet again about sending her son to a private school. At the hustings she identified this as the most difficult decision she ever had to make. She’s a leader on the back benches helping to make sure the Labour Party and future Labour governments stay on track. In fact, I’d like to see her even more outspoken She’s capable of having a considerable influence as a progressive, independent voice for socialism.
One fundamentally important factor about making this decision is determining which of the candidates is best qualified to be able to lead Labour back into power as the national government. Of the candidates standing I think only one of the Milibands is capable of achieving this challenge. So, to conclude, I’m trending toward Ed but David would do.