Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Longer elections

So, some MPs did shout "No" during the re-election of John Bercow, but it wasn't enough to prompt a formal vote. John Bercow was dragged to the Speaker's chair, as tradition dictates, and his first act was to call the new Prime Minister, who was sitting next to Nick Clegg – something that would have been unthinkable when MPs last sat in the Commons.

There was no sign of David Miliband, but Ed was in the chamber. Perhaps the elder Miliband brother was out canvassing of votes, although it's not as if he's short of time to do that. The National Executive Committee of the Labour Party announced today that the new leader won't be revealed until the start of the Labour Conference on 25 September. Oddly though, potential candidates only have nine more days to enter the race.

Ed Balls is said to be planning on announcing his candidacy tomorrow. Balls was once described by Andrew Neil as 'Gordon Brown's representative on Earth', and is seen as the former Prime Minister's favoured candidate - although Brown has said will not officially support anyone. Then there is John McDonnell, who was the only other candidate to run against Brown in the last leadership election and is seen as the candidate of the left wing of the party.

Mrs. Miliband's candidate, Jon Cruddas, has said he will not run, although he did express concern about the short amount of time for potential candidates to find nominations from other Labour MPs. Cruddas said it was not enough time for proper scrutiny of the candidates by their fellow MPs.

Of course, as the result will not be known until September, there is plenty of time for nominated candidates to be scrutinised by the media. This wasn't always the case, normally when the leader of a losing party stepped down at the end of a general election, the new leader was in place as quickly as possible. This changed five years ago when Michael Howard resigned as Conservative party at the end of the 2005 election. That leadership election went on for months, running right through the Conservative party conference, and lead to an outsider becoming the new leader - his name was David Cameron. Perhaps a longer campaign isn't a bad idea.

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