My ballot arrived in the post this weekend, I saw it staring at me as i arrived back from my camping trip. It seemed so ominous much like when you vote in a General election. You spend many months talking about ‘the thing’, writing about ‘the thing’, and when ‘the thing’ arrives it gives you a great sense of angst, and a cause to sit down a moment and have another think about who you want and why you want to vote for them. Often the appearance of a ballot paper is like a political black hole it sucks in every thought you’ve ever conceived of and the longer you wait to put your tick on the sheet the more it stares into you.
In my constituency party vote, i gave Andy Burnham my first preference, and Liz Kendall my second. The reasoning for this, much to the consternation of my mum was that it was to try, and stop my constituency party voting for Corbyn. It was only going to be one of those two candidates, and i thought Burnham was the lesser of two evils. Corbyn won out in the end which i thought was no surprise. In the end i might as well have voted with my conscience, as is often the case my mum was by far the wisest of the two of us. Before i went to the meeting, I was aware there were plenty of people who liked Corbyn and shared his values. However I wasn’t convinced they’d vote for him on purely pragmatic grounds, indeed i was wrong and my comfort blanket that no-one would really vote for this guy was duly eviscerated.
When I saw my ballot paper i knew i wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. This is why I voted for Liz Kendall as my first preference. She is the only candidate who can deliver a modern vision of the Labour party with a clear objective and viable solutions to the ever-growing problems which confront our nation. On education she is the one with a genuine commitment to restarting social mobility by investing in early education, and she accepts all types of schools can give life changing education. Instead of pandering to the easy popular policy of abolishing tuition fees which doesn’t do anything for social mobility, she shows a real commitment to creating a fairer society by starting at the ground floor.
Kendall can also speak to ‘traditional’ Labour values for instance those who want to protect the unions from new legislation, something which is not antithetical to ‘New Labour’ politics but is also a ‘traditional value’. Indeed people always cite ‘anti union’ laws made by New Labour, however evidence suggests it was the opposite of the truth. For a new MP Liz Kendall has exceeded all rational expectations and has really took Labour by storm, her ideas suggest a rejuvenation of a third way which protects the most vulnerable while speaking to a large section of the electorate who want credibility within government. Her media performances aren’t consistent but given time she can improve, after-all she has shown potential. All of this adds up to a convincing candidate when given time can become a real force in British Politics.
Not only do i think Kendall has the right vision at the right time, I also think some of the candidates lack a vision. Andy Burnham is the main guilty party in this. He wants to get out of the Westminster bubble, despite living inside the bubble himself. His only appeal to a working class identity seems to be he likes football. His lack of a single identity which people can associate himself with is also disconcerting. Burnham has shifted to a Corbyn light model from his previous association within Blairite government, one notable example is that he has gone from New Labour privatisation to decrying the involvement of private companies in the NHS. While his manifesto makes good sense in many aspects how can he be trusted to deliver what he says if the public disagree, will he just change his mind again like the never-ending weathervane.
Jeremy Corbyn has a vision but it’s one of the past, the idea that post war consensus politics will return with a vengance is one which not even the most enthusiastic corbynite can take seriously when you look at the polling evidence. Not only is Corbyn an unelectable leader his ‘policy papers’ lack any sort of detail. He wants to raise taxes but refuses to specify by how much. This is a pretty major problem when your policies in their nature are tax and spend, his only figures come from clamping down completely on tax evasion. His ‘Northern vision’ policy is based around the opinions of 1200 residents and feature ideas which have already been rejected such as a regional parliament. He wants to ‘rotate’ parliament around the country to make politics seem less London focused. His foreign policy is based around withdrawing from Nato, destroying our nuclear weapons stock (which will save a minimal amount) and maybe even exiting the European union. All of this in nature seems radical, but it is anything but. It is old style Labour politics which hasn’t worked in the past and won’t work now. The possibility of re-opening coal mines seems emblematic of where Corbyn wants to go. Indeed the hatred spewed out by some of his followers on twitter is disturbing, the purity of the party is what matters to them and anyone who disagrees is surely a ‘tory’.
I did put Cooper as my second choice because she is my second least worst candidate, she has a backbone and some good ideas. However I cannot see the ambition or the enthusiasm that is required to make a credible leader, when she speaks she’s more soporific than inspiring. I cannot see her at the despatch box or on a campaign trail. I think Kendall is the only realistic option for Labour leader, she alone is the one who can lead the party out of the wilderness and into government. I think everyone has a right to vote for whomever they wish, and i wouldn’t cast aspersions on those who vote the way they do. I’m not a cybernat who goes around hating on other members of my party. It’s up to us to decide now, I’ve made my choice and i am hoping the arrival of a ballot paper sobers people into thinking twice before they mark Corbyn as their man.
If you liked my piece please read others, and follow my blog by pressing the follow button 🙂