Chuka Umunna and Liz Kendall have thrown their hats into the ring as candidates to succeed Ed Miliband. They are likely to be joined by Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Tristram Hunt.
Of this crowd, I would surmise that Andy Burnham is the only one to have anything like what it will take for Labour to climb out the grave it has dug for itself.
But Labour’s election debacle, blamed by Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle on the ‘out of touchness’ of metropolitan liberal north London intelligentsia, has not stopped moves to ensure that one of its next leader or deputy must be a woman. This Harriet Harman innovation has been revived again since she became interim leader, according to Patrick Wintour in the Guardian.
It should be astonishing but, of course, it is not because Labour is still in thrall to the woman who, even more than Ed Miliband, has brought them to them to their current nadir.
Any Labout Party member – or voter – listening to Harman’s struggle with John Humphrys’s questioning on the Today programme on Monday should surely be wondering now whether her’s is the advice they should be following.
She appeared entirely bemused by Labour’s immolation. She had no explanation at all. So sure, it seems, is she of her brand of Marxist feminism that it has not struck her it did not go down very well in the north – with that unreconstructed working class male redoubt.
Had she read Revolt on the Right when it was first published last year (by the two left-leaning political scientists Robert Ford and and Matthew Goodwin) before going to bed of a night, instead of plotting her feminist reconstruction of her party, she might have gained some insight.
She would have been alarmed no doubt to find that when support for Ukip nationally went above three per cent it began to eat into Labour votes. She would have had to reflect on the fact that the Labour voters Ukip has been targeting since 2008 or so “were very different to the middle class, socially liberal and southern voters who had turned to Blair’s rebranded ‘New Labour’ in the 1990s”.
Northern Labour folk were, Paul Nuttall of Ukip had argued in an article, less likely to vote, more hard line on crime and punishment …less concerned about new left issues like multiculturalism and human rights and so on. He might have added they were also a million miles away from Harriet’s brand of feminism and her ‘harmanisation’ of Labour. Not that Harriet cared about these cavemen, other than their need to appreciate the wisdom of the sisterhood.
But this is what the (London) Labour Party (for this is where its powerbase now resides) should take on board.
The irony so far appears to be lost on them that by a bitter twist of fate the blokeish Ed Balls has been sacrificed on this altar – not that pale imitation of Harriet Harman, otherwise known as Yvette Cooper. Balls has been sacrificed to ‘support’ his feminist political wife who, were she to become leader, would prove to be the final chapter of her party.
Poor old Ed Balls has suffered a double whammy. First, the party’s Harmanisation dictated he must play the modern shared parenting game to the tune of this same ambitious but personality-free wife. Then his own voters lost faith in him.
Next, he appears set to become her house husband in a final blow to his masculinity and to that of his party.
No wonder he looked shell-shocked at his count.
What had he done? he must have been asking himself, as he read his wife’s latest text dictating his day’s chores – new school uniform for the children; collect a prescription; plan the family’s meals for the next week (to free her up for her leadership campaign).
I wonder if he regrets his past vocal, but nominal, support for his wife’s leadership ambitions, the price now really being his own career?
Can he really believe that Yvette is genuine party leadership material and not him? Can he think she’ll really be better at reconnecting with blue Labour than him or at communicating (with her little shrill voice and unconvincing demeanour ) with anyone for that matter?
And shackled by this ‘Harmanised’ reality will the new house husband fight Geoffrey Robinson’s Coventry seat that is supposed to be vacated soon, or will he defer to a wife’s ambitions that might have Labour voters crying, ‘Come back Ed, all is forgiven?’