I cast my two sets of votes, as Labour Party member and Fabian, about two minutes before the BBC’s “Question Time” special aired tonight. The invited cast was, for a change, all from the same political party – though, after the triangulation of the New Labour years you might be forgiven for thinking this had happened before.
As those of you who regularly read these pages will already know, during this Labour leadership campaign I have promised myself that I would see as little video coverage of their activities as possible – and spend most of my time filtering the excesses of marketing and soundbites from my fevered brain. I also promised myself I would wait until the very last moment possible to finally deposit my virtual ballot papers.
However, I couldn’t not watch “Question Time” tonight, so found myself in a dilemma of almighty proportions. In the end, resolution was easy. As I said at the beginning of this post, I decided to vote two minutes before the programme aired. Everything after that, for me at least, had that kind of feeling you get when you watch a footie match where you know the result and it’s your team that wins.
For this tweet summed it all up for me:
@BevaniteEllie still say EB might not be next leader but will be next Labour PM… He was great tonight
Ed Balls has grown into the role over the campaign. He gives that air of knowing all the answers – but even when he doesn’t, he makes you feel he’ll be more than happy to dig them up. He is pugnacious, he fights your corner, he makes you feel included.
He’s in favour of learning lessons and applying them to the future – which, of course, is great in a potential leader of a party in need of renewal. He’s big enough to take things on the chin. He doesn’t wriggle – he doesn’t need to. He is clever and he is acquiring the ability to be humble too.
I voted Ed Balls, of course.
You can tell really, can’t you?
Meanwhile, the only other commentary I would find myself obliged to make tonight is that I really don’t get Miliband (E). He gives the impression, at least in my opinion, of needing to grow up. And fast. There is an air of the sixth form monitor whom teachers seem to rely on about him that I fear very much. I fear the Peter Principle, I do. I fear it mightily.
I fear we will all come to understand it only too well, if he wins the election as they say he will. By which time, of course, it will be far too late to do anything useful about it.
So what about the other candidates then? Miliband (D) is a smooth operator (his “moral economy” soundbite makes you wonder whether he does God or actually is God), but he’s inevitably tainted in one of the two major roles he’d have as Prime Minister – that is to say, as Labour leader. He’d make a good presidential candidate – to use a Fraser Nelson phrase he’d make a great “statesman without a state” – but we don’t have a presidential system. (Or at least we don’t right now. Who knows what the Coalition might bring?)
He most certainly would not have the Labour Party in his pocket. He doesn’t even seem to realise that people can get fired en masse and then rehired the following month these days. And you want to lead a party of the workers?
Andy Burnham was the most disappointing of all the candidates tonight I think, though. Whereas Ed Balls’ soundbites sounded wise not rewound, Burnham’s “hollow and disconnected” New Labour mantra was repeated for about the two zillionth time this campaign. Also, his political ineptness when he attempted to stride the heights of honesty and sincerity by virtually saying Labour would have cut almost as savagely as the Coalition just doesn’t bear thinking about.
Finally, Diane Abbott continues to wield her political purity with astonishing disdain. I’m just so very glad she doesn’t have a chance of winning.
And that’s me done and dusted.