Labour leadership election – all over bar the shouting?

It doesn’t really matter which political philosophy you subscribe to – the contests for the positions of Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party have unearthed a wonderful spectrum of views on everyone and everything involved in it.  Several commentators think that a Gordon Brown victory is a foregone conclusion, whereas others believe that the contest is still in its infancy.  Some analysts are enthralled by the fight for the Deputy Leadership, whereas a handful of columnists in the Sunday papers have made a point of stating how completely disinterested they are in that particular squabble.  Some have praised Hazel Blears’ attempt to ‘reach out’ to the world with a YouTube video and a Facebook profile, whereas others simply cannot contain their laughter.  The question of whether the Conservative Party should be even remotely worried about whose leadership bid is ultimately successful is another means of effortlessly dividing political opinion.

So what are we to make of it?  Should the Labour Party appoint a leader who might be able to challenge David Cameron at the next election, or should they elect someone with little short-term potential but with the attributes to spark a Labour revival in the long run?  Many pundits see Gordon Brown as the only candidate who has the experience and profile necessary to make David Cameron work hard for victory in the election.  Nevertheless, Gordon Brown should relish a meaningful leadership contest, as it will provide him with an ideal opportunity to use the media and other MPs as the springboard for his life-long ambition of becoming Prime Minister.  Without a genuine challenge, some might feel that he was chosen due to a dearth of alternatives rather than as the deserved winner of an open debate about which direction the party should now choose.

Having said this, one could also argue that a clear, unanimous victory for Gordon Brown would send out a clear and unequivocal message to the party, and perhaps more importantly to the British public, that the Labour Party fully support him as he strives to take the country forward.  The gaping divisions in the Labour Party are incredibly damaging to the public’s confidence in them and a comprehensive victory for Brown may go some way to repairing old wounds rather than opening new ones, which they would risk through a drawn-out and bitter leadership contest.  How the Conservative Party would react to Gordon Brown’s appointment remains to be seen.

Tom Richmond

Editors comment – Below – Blears Campaign video – what a street urchin.

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