Having spent many weeks knowing who I am not voting for to be the next Labour leader – that will be the continuity Corbyn candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey – I have now decided who I am going to vote for. The same thing applies to the deputy leadership contest where I have known from the outset that I could never vote for Richard Burgon or Dawn Butler and, given her close personal and political proximity to Long-Bailey, Angela Rayner. In both cases, having gotten the rubbish candidates out of the way (to be fair, Rayner is not rubbish), it was a question of who the good ones were and which ones were most likely to bring Labour back to a position where it might provide strong opposition to Boris Johnson’s right wing nationalist Tory party and put up a better showing at the next general election. So, here goes.
The leadership comes down to a choice between Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy. I am very aware that Labour needs, at some point soon, to elect a woman leader. Nandy is a brilliant speaker and communicator but doesn’t seem to have an overall message other than ‘let’s listen’. Starmer suggests competence, intellect and an ability to forensically take on the Tories, whilst fighting hard for Labour values and the end of austerity. On balance, I am going for Starmer.
The deputy leadership comes down to two people as well. They are Ian Murray, the only Labour MP remaining in its former heartland of Scotland and Rosena Allin-Khan, who is not only an MP but an A&E doctor. In all honesty, there’s a fag paper between these two excellent candidates but something about Murray’s working class background, his ability to keep Labour alive in Scotland and his brilliant campaigning give him my vote.
I’m sorry I’m voting for two men this time but I do so because I think they are the best people for the job. As things stand now, Labour is in a hole. The Corbyn years have been a disaster for Labour, culminating in a catastrophic defeat last December. The cantankerous, rebellious, old backbencher was never up to leading the Labour Party and gave each Tory PM the easiest of easy rides. The worst result for Labour since 1935 must bring about the recognition that Labour must change. I believe Starmer and Murray are the best people on the ballot papers to help bring about this change.
If you want to see Labour carry on down the road to electoral oblivion, then vote for Long-Bailey and any one of Burgon, Butler and Rayner. If you want change, vote in any order you like for Starmer or Nandy for leader and Murray or Allin-Khan for deputy and don’t cast preferences for anyone else.
Even if Starmer or Nandy win, it is unlikely that as leader of the opposition they would do better than removing Boris Johnson’s majority or even just reducing it significantly. A Long-Bailey win, alongside a no hoper like Burgon or Butler, would see Labour decline still further as an electoral force.
And ask yourself who Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson would prefer to win the elections: they would undoubtedly want Long-Bailey as leader with either of Burgon or Butler as deputy. It’s as simple as that.
I’m not sure about things can only get better. Cock this up and things might get a whole lot worse.