At last night’s nomination meeting of my local CLP a healthy majority of us voted in support of Ed Miliband for Labour Leader. I was pleased with this.
Coming second was Diane Abbott. I found it hard to take seriously the suggestions that she was a principled leftist. I don’t think anyone seriously thought she would make the best leader – perhaps a matter of hearts overruling heads.
Many think this contest is going come down to Labour going for a Miliband, and there’s certainly much going for that view.
Supporters of David Miliband were few in number but fairly vocal and articulate. They propagated the argument that, whilst their man may not have appealed much to most of the assembled members, it was actually important to select a candidate who talked of things that didn’t necessarily please party members.
The logic was that pleasing party members too much = self-indulgent leftism which would not win over the electoral centre ground.
On the flip side, displeasing party members = a sign of responsibility and potential Prime Minister material.
Truly, advocates of such an argument are Labour’s self-flagellation tendency.
This way of thinking is tired and should be abandoned. There is no inevitable contradiction between being able to enthuse party members during a selection campaign and then going on to win a parliamentary majority after a general election.
We should be looking for a leader with widespread appeal who is able to build alliances with others. Political positioning disliked by lots of party members is not the strategy of a ‘broad church’ candidate. It should not be spun as some sort of brave demonstration of leadership quality.
I want someone to lead us who puts a bit more effort into unifying the party and is less tarred by the divisions of the past few years.
Also: Chris Bryant MP randomly turned up to speak in favour of David Miliband but was turned away as he was not a CLP member and none of the other candidates had guest speakers putting the case for them. A bizarre and amusing occurence, though I’m not sure he appreciated his wasted journey to the Holloway Road when there was so much Gove-baiting to be done in the Commons!