It’s always nice to make new friends. At ten-o-clock last night an e-mail arrived in my inbox. It was from Lauren Allpress, a name I did not recognise; on inspection it turned out to be from the Yvette Cooper campaign. It asked ‘Martyn –have you voted yet?’ and went on to tell me that Lauren herself ‘was pretty excited when I got my voting details, so I did it straight away!’ (note the exclamation mark).
Well Lauren, my ballot paper arrived over a week ago but, unlike you, I am not excited. I am agonising over my choice. I have taken the paper out of the envelope several times, stared at it like a snake looking at a mongoose, and put it back unmarked.
Some elements of my choice are easy. I am firmly ABC (anyone but Corbyn). I have no doubt he would be a short-term embarrassment before he was removed and would do considerable long-term harm to the prospects for a left-of-centre government. Angela Eagle has expressed too much sympathy with his perspective so she is out. Ironically the Deputy Leadership candidate who has produced the most thoughtful material is Tom Watson. The problem here is that he is a clever political operator who, under a deputy role to Jeremy Corbyn, could well have his own agenda for keeping him in power for longer than the bare minimum.
Having followed events closely I know whom I want to win. In an extremely lack-lustre campaign, of which Corbyn’s emergence is a symptom, Yvette Cooper has been the most effective. She has brought forward at least some worthwhile ideas and has had the courage to distance herself from Corbyn. Andy Burnham in contrast has shilly-shallied on Jeremy Corbyn for opportunistic reasons disregarding the real threat to the Party’s long-term future. Moreover Andy Burnham put me right off with his claims that, because he comes from the north and supports Everton, he is not a Westminster insider. Who is he kidding? He hasn’t worked anywhere else since Cambridge.
My real dilemma concerns the Blairite candidates: Liz Kendall and Ben Bradshaw. I am not a Blairite but if we are to save the Party we will desperately need the faction organised round the Blairite Progress Group to be at its most effective over the next eighteen months. For that reason I’m tempted to vote Kendall 1 and Cooper 2 for the Leadership and Bradshaw 1 and Creasey 2 for the Deputy Leadership. But I still haven’t made up my mind and will go back to staring at the envelope.
I shall, of course, eventually vote by post since I have no confidence whatsoever in the Labour Party’s management of its computer systems (see my repeated blogs on the woeful Contact Creator system).