After a thrilling General Election, the results shocking even the Conservatives, do the Labour Party have a credible replacement?
Finally, 12 days since the resignation of Ed Miliband the roll-call of candidates is complete. The procrastinations of two leadership hopefuls: Chuka Umunna and Tristran Hunt has left just four potential contenders. But, are Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh, Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham charismatic and intuitive enough to transform a polarised, resentful 20th century political institution into a relevant, mainstream popular brand that was once associated with the phrase “Cool Britannia”?
Do any of these contenders even aspire to attract such a label, or will they be so engaged in the machinations that come with such a demanding role – their inexperience and lack of gravitas will see them descend into the abyss.
Creagh and Kendall are extremely unlikely to go the distance and will almost certainly have to declare for Cooper or Burnham, and there lies the problem. The two remaining candidates have so much baggage they would make Madonna on a world tour look like a backpacker! Burnham is toxic in the eyes of many of the electorate for his shambolic running of the NHS – under his watch there were many avoidable deaths – the Mid-Staffs scandal sticks to Burnham like Liam Byrne’s treasury note, and look how that was used to great effect by Cameron in the short campaign. Burnham – should he become leader, Burnham would quickly come to dread the weekly mauling at PMQs – he would never be able to weaponise the NHS to the same effect as Miliband did. In fact, I would be very surprised if he ever uttered the acronym. That leaves him with a limited attack, especially when you consider he was never seen as a friend of business and finance, so the economy is off topic for him. With Rachel Reeves writing his economic policies they are certain to be weak and muddled. He is unlikely to fare much better on defence, education, homeland security or foreign policy too. In short, he is continuity Miliband in every way.
We now turn our attention to Yvette Cooper, yes the thrusting, ambitious Mrs Balls. Her most notable trait being insincerity. If you don’t believe me, just check-out twitter when she appears on a political discussion program, you’ll see what I mean and fully understand why, as Labour leader, she would contaminate the whole party brand. This would put her majesty’s loyal opposition at a distinct disadvantage from the get-go! On the economy she will be accused of advancing her husbands totally discredited fiscal platitudes. Education would be no better, Mr Balls was schools minister in the last government and that didn’t go too well, Cooper will again be seen as reconstituting Ed Balls’ failed education strategies. Her defence and foreign policy will be associated with Ed Miliband’s disastrous, selfish U-turns on Syria and Lybia. Ms Cooper was of course shadow home secretary, her tenure has been overshadowed by Teresa May, who has been decisive and strong, especially with the Police Federation, we couldn’t possibly expect that from a Labour Home Secretary.
Without really thinking too strenuously, there is an entire nuclear arsenal available to the Tories should they wish to attack a Labour party led by either of these to candidates. Yet if Kendall or Creagh were to surprise us all and one of them become Labour leader, the credibility factor would take years to build around them, just as it did with Ed Miliband, and of course, there is the danger, just like Miliband, that the public may not like them at all.