The Facebook leadership contest, the Likes count so far

If the Labour leadership was decided by online presence we might end up with a strange result.

Here are the candidates ranked by Facebook ‘Likes’ for their respective pages.

30,938 Jeremy Corbyn (JeremyCorbyn4Leader)
12,885 Yvette Cooper (YvetteCooperMP)
11,579 Andy Burnham (andy4leader)
3,278 Liz Kendall (LabourLiz)

17,367 Tom Watson (tom.watson.uk)
5,486 Angela Eagle (angela4labour)
4,630 Caroline Flint (CarolineFlintMP)
4,582 Stella Creasy (Stella-Creasy)
2,056 Ben Bradshaw (Ben-Bradshaw)

I have gone for their most popular page, rather than the leadership campaign pages.

Of course, compared to the electorate in the actual election these numbers are quite small. Also, you can like a politician without necessarily being willing to vote for them, and can ‘Like’ more than one of them. However, I am sure those dreaming of a Corbyn/Watson leadership team will be cheered by this.

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We need a leader with the broadest appeal

Let’s be honest, anything other than fourth place would be a surprise for Jeremy Corbyn, let alone the wider party. He is getting my fourth spot. This is less for reasons of what he stands for (which is, in my opinion, a rather mixed bag), but because he is the least electable of the four on offer.

It seems that some are convinced that the leadership election somehow writes the 2020 manifesto. It does not – the leader debate is all about who spearheads our 2020 challenge. The leadership election is all about getting the most electable candidate selected.

It is also, should we forget, about who leads HM Opposition. It is about who faces Mr Cameron over the despatch box, who can best hold the Government to account, and who can provide the most credible face to a putative Labour Government.

In many ways what comes out of Liz’s, Yvette’s, Andy’s and Jeremy’s mouth is less important than how it is articulated. We should be looking for the candidate with the broadest appeal. On that criterion alone, Jeremy is fourth.

However, Jeremy has already articulated an important truth – the party needs to become more democratic. Whoever succeeds I hope they will make members more engaged in policy making.

We are picking the glossy jacket cover, and perhaps sketching out a few chapter titles. The contents of the book is what I, and the quarter of a million fellow members of party, will have a hand in writing over the next four years.

We were rejected in 2010 and 2015; those who need a Labour Government on their side cannot afford another rejection in 2020.

Having choice, and being criticised for choosing; some are preparing for rattle propulsion

I am a Tory, I must be – someone on Twitter said so. Daring to choose one of the four Labour leadership contenders that was not the choice of said Tweeter makes me liable to be punished by tweeting “you are no socialist”.

Anyroadup. Yesterday: a day of two debates.

Midday, Osborne versus Benn. I am a big fan of Hilary Benn. I think he is the best speaker in the PLP, a joy to listen to. I could enthuse about his orating the telephone directory. His is always a sober oratory, and able to be economical with words, whilst able to be totally persuasive.

I do not like Osborne’s voice, and apologise if that is too personal. It is less the timbre, than the cocksure lecturing style that he conveys. It is of some comfort that whilst Labour has four good candidates (albeit with reservations about Jeremy Corbyn), the two frontrunners to succeed David Cameron as Tory leader are both unattractive propositions. To be fair, George (or Gideon as some like to call him) did reasonably well at yesterday’s PMQs. However, Benn was masterful, and showed how you can conduct yourself with gravitas, and without resorting to Punch and Judy politics.

Seven pm. The Newsnight debate. Having outed myself as a Kendall fan I was hoping that she was not going to throw into doubt my allegiance. No worries, she was competent enough, although if I am allowed a minor whinge I would work on the body language.

Liz is condemned as the right-wing candidate, a virtual Tory to some – but have they actually listened to her? I do not doubt that I will find myself disagreeing with some of her views, but so far it has been all good.

I thought Jeremy Corbyn showed why his inclusion is so useful. He offered a quite different solution, albeit one inherit from the 1970s. It allowed for genuine comparisons between his standpoint and the other three. I did not agree with too much, although some of his ideas are perfectly sound.

As for Yvette and Andy, Cooper and Burnham. They came across as the continuation candidates, which does not strike me as what is required. However you look at it, we were thumped in 2010 and this year, and something has got to change. Yvette was very statesmanlike, and would make a good leader, whereas Andy seemed incapable of being concise.

Whoever wins will get my support. I just cannot understand those who threaten to leave the party if their chosen candidate does not succeed – how is this democratic? I did not vote for Ed Miliband but was more than happy to work for him, and my not choosing him does not diminish the fact that he is a democratic socialist and more than competent politician. The same for whoever emerges from this competition. If Liz is unsuccessful I will still work damn hard for my community and for Labour. If you want to help the Tories then throw your rattle out of the pram on September 12th when the winner is announced, because they will relish all the division, petulance, and sulking from those incapable of understanding why anyone cannot agree all the time with them.

On last night’s performance I think Liz Kendall came out best, marginally ahead of Yvette Cooper. I would put Andy Burnham some distance ahead of Jeremy Corbyn in third place on the night.

I am going to the Stevenage hustings on Saturday, another chance to hear all four candidates.