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.