02 May 2010

The Labour leadership: A contest is needed, not a coronation

According to Patrick Hennessey in the Sunday Telegraph, Brown is expected to step down quickly if Labour is defeated on Thursday:
Labour insiders say the Prime Minister could well be replaced by Harriet Harman, the party's deputy leader, as a "caretaker" while Mr Brown's successor is a chosen – in a battle which is likely to last for months.

Miss Harman is thought unlikely to stand for the leadership itself.
This is the only option allowed for under the rules of the Labour party.  However, it when we get down to the details of what happens next that the problem arises:
A group known as the "ultras" which includes Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary and the man who is running Labour's much-criticised campaign, is keen to install David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, as leader without a formal contest.
This will not do.  One of the numerous errors the Brown camp made was not allowing a leadership contest to happen when Blair stood down.  The party must have an internal debate where the various candidates put forward their vision and plan for the future.  Only then will the party be able to move forward.  Besides, there is plenty of time.  The Labour conference doesn't meet until the autumn, and whatever the result on Thursday, there is unlikely to be another general election this year.

Mandelson is right to push for David Miliband.  But if Labour find themselves in opposition after Thursday, there must be a contest, not a coronation.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with you. I am a Labour Party member and fel that one of the reasons why we are not doing better than we are going into the election is just because we didn't have a full contest last time.

    I would be very surprised if David Miliband or anyone else (even Ed Balls) would go along with a repeat, if Labour loses on Thursday. If they did, there would rightly be a huge and long lasting row, going right to the Conference.

    I hope it doesn't come to that.