I think I’m going to wait to the very last moment. I believe this is September 21st, though don’t quote me on it. (Anyone care to confirm?)
So it is that I ask myself: should I be voting as a floating voter or should I be voting as a long-term Labour supporter?
For I’m still having problems working out who to vote for. I’m unsure if my main criteria should be the fifth one on the list I published the other day, that is to say, the ability to get us re-elected, or the fourth one, that is to say, sheer niceness.
Or maybe the first one: the right attitude in a newly team-focussed leadership structure. Let’s run through them again:
- The first and most important factor is as follows: if a candidate doesn’t win the leadership election, how easy will it be for them to work under someone else’s command – or, alternatively (and more hopefully perhaps), in tandem with someone else’s potentially differentiated leadership?
- I thought the second factor to influence my vote should be: how good is this person at exuding an air of wisdom without falling into the trap of being a clever dick?
- Three is easy: given my predilection for flat hierarchies and horizontal modes of communicating and influencing, does this person give me the impression that they’re looking for a personal springboard or a societal springboard?
- Four is a bit more random: how good do I think this person would be at being my local MP, given the opportunity?
- Five is the most difficult to swallow, for me at least: how effective will this person be at moulding a broad church like the Labour Party into a movement that can win general elections again?
Who, then, do I vote for exactly?
On point 1, with my hand on my heart, I think I could vote for Andy Burnham and Ed Miliband.
On point 2, everyone except Miliband (D) and – occasionally – Ed Balls. (Superficial, I know – but it’s my immediate knee-jerk reaction.)
On point 3, I’m pretty clear that everyone is looking for a societal springboard, though – again – Miliband (D) does unfortunately exude a certain air of high-falutin’ careerist. He’s just too polished, really.
On point 4, I think I’d have to go for Andy Burnham and Ed Miliband again. Approachability and self-effacement is what I’m looking for in my local MP, but a controlled sense of virtue too. Diane Abbott doesn’t control her sense of virtue. Ed Balls and Miliband (D) seem to be too ambitious to want to bother with local stuff (though again this is probably outrageously unfair and unreasonable to the both of them).
On point 5, I wonder if it isn’t one of those moments when anyone and everyone who is currently way behind can suddenly scream up on the nearside and cross the finishing-line at the very last moment as if he or she had been in pole position from the very beginning.
Let’s do it that way.
Let’s tot up the state of play up to point 4.
Diane Abbott – 2
Ed Balls – 2
Andy Burnham – 4
David Miliband – ½
Ed Miliband – 4
Hmm. That’s curious. So now we come back to point 5.
Five is the most difficult to swallow, for me at least: how effective will this person be at moulding a broad church like the Labour Party into a movement that can win general elections again?
Bloody hell. This is a tough one.
Are we going for the long haul or do we need to be ready within the next twelve months? Shouldn’t we keep in mind that this person must be as acceptable to and healing for the Labour Party as he or she is attractive to a wider voting public? Are we accepting that we have no alternative to reproducing the structures of pyramid politics I complain so much about on these pages or are we wondering whether a real transformation and movement to true collegiate behaviours could be achieved?
Five points for this one then.
And this is my verdict. At least, for the moment (though I still reserve the right to change my mind right up to the 21st). I think Miliband (D) is probably best placed to get Labour re-elected again soonest of all, but there is one massive “if” – and it’s truly massive: only if the Party is prepared to get behind his history and intelligence.
If Cameron wants to let it be known that he fears Miliband (D) the most, it is probably because he judges that Miliband (D) would prove the most destructive for a true rebuilding of the Labour Party. Miliband (D) is, therefore, the short-term option: that is to say, if you want to get back into power pronto, vote for him.
The downside, of course, is that the Labour Party will eventually become even more of a shell than it threatened to become under Blair – and latterly Brown. And if Cameron is also clever enough to play a rather more selfless long game, that is to say, looking out for the long-term interests of that part of the political spectrum he has a greatest affinity to, he would be clearly fascinated by such a possibility and might do anything to encourage its coming about.
So then. An initial answer. Miliband (D) wins the first prize by a very small margin, with a total of 5½ points.
Problem is that in Mil land – as opposed to Miliband land – things are never that simple.
If we calculate that the Coalition will overcome its teething pains and stick around for at least another couple of years, we have the time not only to oppose effectively but also to reconstruct the Labour Party usefully. In this latter case, I am not so sure that Miliband (D) is the best placed candidate to bring together and heal what is currently a pained and hurting entity – a wounded animal of historical proportions.
So what do I think in a scenario such as this second one?
Well, that’s what I’m really not sure about right now.
I still need more time to cogitate.
Ask me closer to the 21st.