Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Which Mr. Miliband?

After a four month campaign, the Labour leadership election is over. As of 5pm today, the polls have closed. Of course, we won't know the actual result until 5pm on Saturday, but at least the candidates can now rest without worrying about missing a hustings or a canvassing opportunity.

So, who will win? Well, if Diane Abbott, Ed Balls or Andy Burnham wins it will be seen as a major upset. If Diane Abbott gets it there is a strong possibility of a civil war inside the Labour party between the left wing (which includes Ms. Abbott) and the right wing (which is the majority of Labour MPs). Ed Balls will be able to keep the party together (his somewhat stern reputation will see to that) but he has a similar problem to Brown in that the public don't warm to him.

Andy Burnham is an unknown. He will appeal in northern voters, but he looks young and innocent (although so did Tony Blair when he became Labour leader in 1994). David Cameron should fear Mr. Burnham as Labour leader. In politics, figures who come from nowhere tend to win elections (Barack Obama, Tony Blair, David Cameron are good examples of this).

Speculation about the hypothetical leaderships of Abbott, Balls and Burnham are interesting, but it would be extraordinary for the winner not to be called 'Mr. Miliband'. Which 'Mr. Miliband', of course, is a matter of debate.

This leadership election has been given a unique dynamic due to the fact that the two frontrunners are sibling. This dynamic is unlikely to end when the result is announced on Saturday, it will have a great influence on the leadership of the eventual winner. The loser will almost certainly stand for the Shadow Cabinet, which will be led by their brother. The Blair-Brown rivalry influenced the Labour party and the country for over a decade. I wonder what influence will a Miliband-Miliband rivalry have?

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