Thursday, 2 September 2010

David vs...oh, it's David (or maybe Ed)

My ballot papers haven't arrived yet but i know who i am voting for when they do.  I will be voting for Ed Miliband, David Miliband, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and Diane Abbott; in that order. My instinct has told me go with Miliband, E since he announced his intention to run, the literature and articles I have read, the hustings I have attended and 'VoteMatch' have all confirmed that he is the candidate for me, based on his policies and clear passion to fight for Labours core values. I support the Living Wage and believe that a Graduate Tax is the fairest alternative to tuition fees, I am also impressed by his commitment to boosting the Green Economy and using this to create British jobs. I am interested in his willingness to consider a new approach to foreign policy. I do not think Ed Miliband is the finished article but I do believe he can build a strong relationship with the electorate.

During the course of this leadership election I have also, at varying points, been hugely impressed with most of the other candidates. I thought Andy Burnham's defence of the NHS on Question Time in the early summer was heartfelt, intelligent, empathic and hugely impressive. He undoubtedly has the ability to communicate with people on the doorstep and is a vital tool for the Labour party going forward. His man of the people approach has its place and will be useful, especially when dealing with some of the more difficult, sensitive issues that Labour got wrong in the election.

Ed Balls speech at Bloomberg on August 27th was brilliant and without doubt Labours most important economic comment since the coalition came to power. His conviction that supporting growth is essential whilst acknowledging the budget deficit, is exactly what we have been waiting to hear. He spoke clearly and passionately about his subject without going number and statistic crazy as Brown may once have done. His arguments for a more balanced approach to the economy, with the focus on job creation are convincing.

However, David Miliband has demonstrated to me that he is the sole ready-for-action statesman amongst the contenders. Last Mondays Movement for Change event in Central London was a comfortable environment for him, speaking to a band of vocal supporters but his confidence, stature and eloquence immediately made me relish the idea of PMQ's in October with DM at the helm for Labour! He is clearly incredibly erudite, principled and a realist and from what I could see has the ability to inspire people. His previous post as Foreign Secretary will have given him access to the highest workings of state but one gets the impression that he is developing a deeper passion for the country and people around him. I hope that this interest will hold and that the need to make Britain a fairer society will truly drive him if he gets the big job.

I think that David Miliband will win the election. And, if I ask myself who is the candidate most likely to become Prime Minister, the immediate answer is David Miliband.
Whether, especially after this weeks shenanigans, we like it or not Tony Blair won Labour three elections by appealing to a broader spectrum of voters than any previous Labour leader has done. Of the contenders the only one who has anything like that appeal is David Miliband. We also know that over the course of the past 13 years Labour lost 5 million voters, many of whom stopped voting rather than moving to the 'dark' side of the Conservatives. In order to win 5 million more voters in the next five years Labour have to deliver credible alternatives to the government. Labour need to inspire the next generation of voters by creating an effective youth arm and building on its core values as a movement. Most of all Labour needs to be united and ensure that the only issue on the agenda is working as a cohesive, organised, passionate and credible opposition party.

Whoever is announced as the new leader on 25th September in Manchester needs to immediately capitalise on the experience and intelligence of those that will make up Labour's shadow cabinet. Provided ego, negative briefings and factionalism are all buried along with the memoirs of the New Labour era than we are looking at a formidable team of people to take on and hold to account the regressive, opportunistic and short-sighted coalition government. The election of 2010 proved Labour with a new intake of MP's who will have to cut their political teeth in opposition, if the Labour machine is effective their next term could see them on the right side of the Commons

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