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I’m voting Milliband

Graham Stringer , MP for Blackley, on the weird 106 day election of a new Labour leader

Published on September 6th 2010.


I’m voting Milliband

It’s make your mind up time for the millions of people who have the right to vote in the Labour leadership election.

All the candidates have avoided dissecting what went wrong at the heart of the Labour Government saying that they do not want to dwell on the Blair/Brown psychodramas.

I agree with Diane Abbott on Iraq, Afghanistan, Trident and privatisation. She is the candidate whose voting record on big issues is closest to mine. However, I would not vote for Diane Abbott even if she was the only name on the ballot paper. This requires some explanation, but first a few word about this very strange selection process and the candidates.

The recent General Election took 26 days. This election has taken 106. Surely if the country can sort out its Government in less than one month the Labour Party can chose a Leader more quickly.

The never ending hustings are reminiscent of the snooker World Championships of forty years ago, when every British Legion and Labour Club in the country with a snooker table was visited by the contenders. Snooker realised the advantage of short decisive tournaments so should the Labour Party. I suspect the reason for this marathon is that members of Labour’s NEC thought a long campaign would help Ed Miliband. The real beneficiaries of a leaderless Labour Party however are the Tories.

Is it also not strange that the four male candidates have all been Special Advisors to Cabinet Ministers? (Nothing strange or unusual that they’ve all been to Oxbridge).

This is really weird though; the Parliamentary Labour Party is cram packed full of distinguished and talented people from all walks of life: academic, sporting, trade union scientific and local government.

Why people whose job it was to carry bags and take orders from Cabinet Ministers should be fast tracked into the top political positions is a mystery to me. They are not noticeably more able or effective than other Ministers. Choosing a leader from this narrow base indicates a similar weakness in the Labour Party to that displayed when the hapless Gordon Brown was unchallenged for Labour leadership.

As far as I can see this is the first national campaign that these four have been involved in away from their Ministerial responsibilities. Interestingly, it is in support of their own careers.

I think Tony Benn should sue for defamation when Ed Miliband has been likened to him. After all Tony Benn was one of the most effective campaigners the Labour Party has ever seen.

The selection is too long and there is insufficient spread of candidates to represent the breadth of views within the Labour Party. So let’s look at what the candidates are saying.

It must be admitted that there is a real problem after a General Election defeat for all candidates who have held ministerial positions. They have to change ground without appearing shifty, hypocritical or completely inconsistent.

The two Eds (Miliband and Balls) have completely failed this test telling us now that they were really against the invasion of Iraq. They were both elected in 2005 after the Iraq vote but there was no evidence when they had the freedom of the back benches that they were hostile to the Iraq War. I simply don’t believe them now.

Andy Burnham is the candidate I would choose to go for a pint with but by being most loyal to Brown and the previous policies he has added little to the debate.

All the candidates have avoided dissecting what went wrong at the heart of the Labour Government saying that they do not want to dwell on the Blair/Brown psychodramas. I understand why they don’t want to expose old wounds but if we don’t understand and discuss what went wrong it is all too possible that there will be a repeat performance.

Surely we need to know how a Labour Government went from having a Leader who couldn’t stop winning elections but involved us in two disastrous wars, to Gordon Brown who couldn’t have won an election between now and eternity.

What made New Labour so powerful was an analysis of how the UK could earn its living within an increasingly competitive globalised economy (in shorthand invest in soft and hard infrastructure) articulated by Blair in a way comprehensible to the many different communities in this country. In this way Labour enlarged its electoral base.

Only David Miliband is attempting to update this analysis. The other candidates have wish lists more reminiscent of the disastrous manifesto of 1983 rather than a series of interlocking policies which comprehensively deal with our problems. A choice of leader is always a balance between the person and their politics.

Diane probably disqualified herself when she justified sending her son to a private school with the extraordinary statement ‘‘West Indian mums will go to the wall for their children’’.

The person who Labour chooses to be Leader could be Prime Minister within 18 months or the Labour Party could be out of power for a generation. On Foreign Policy I am more likely to vote the same way as Diane but I want a Labour Prime Minister, not a failed leader of the opposition.

Therefore I am voting for David Miliband.

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Kevin TilleySeptember 2nd 2010.

Unless Ed Milliband has had Anthony 'Wedgie' Benn in an armlock, I'm guessing he'd sue for defamation not deformation... EDITORIAL: Thanks we've changed it

AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2010.

David Milliband is at the Peoples' History Museum right now - anyone got any rotten eggs?

Still undecidedSeptember 2nd 2010.

'Anonymous' is presumably not part of that enlarged electoral base. Luckily, as the PH Museum shows, Manchester's people were made of a different hue: sterner, thoughtful and articulate enough not to resort to pathetic food chucking in the genueine fight to earn to right to be represented. Interesting article. It would be nice to have a genuine debate on here without the ubiquitour anons splattering rubbish.

Another AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2010.

Says it all really. Can't have a bit of a joke without the Lefties getting up their own arse. Of course, 'ubiquitour anons.' are always Conservatives....yawn

John HarrisSeptember 3rd 2010.

The sad fact is that none of the candidates have anything to recommend them at all. None has ever held a real job or achieved anything of any significance.

Still undecidedSeptember 3rd 2010.

Nothing to do with Tories at all. Just disappointed that an interesting article meets such a pathetic response. It doesn't even pass muster as a joke, exhibiting neither humour not wit.

AnonymousSeptember 4th 2010.

1983??? But wasn't 1983-84 the year of the preparation for the Manchester Revolution culminating in the apotheosis of the NEW LEADER in 1984 (no less) a certain Graham Stringer. I was there:

OH! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!--Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
When most intent on making of herself 10
A prime Enchantress--to assist the work,
Which then was going forward in her name!

Mr Blue skiesSeptember 29th 2010.

SOCIALISM DOES'NT WORK

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