Tuesday 11 August 2015

The Labour Leadership Election: Who Are The Candidates, And Who Will Win?

Who are the candidates? What do they stand for? Should I vote for them? Today, we take a quick look at these questions, and more.

NAME: Andy Burnham

THE ONE WHO... is constantly waging war on the 'Westminster Bubble' every time he speaks.

LEFT OR RIGHT?: He's swayed about a bit, but his campaign has generally been slightly left of centre.

- Plans to reduce the deficit, but "not through the Tory approach of exclusively relying on spending cuts".
- Renationalisation of railways (a move supported by as much as 60% of the British population)
- Introduction of votes for 16 and 17 year olds in future general elections.
- Abolition of student loans, replaced with a 'graduate tax'.
- Further government support for housing- notably 'Rent to Own', allowing zero-deposit mortgages to be taken.

WILL HE WIN?: In the most recent YouGov poll, Burnham came second, with 21% of the vote. Born to a working-class family in Liverpool, he claims regularly that he's never been one of the disconnected career plutocrats of Westminster, and for many this has a rather charming effect. Many see Burnham as just plain nice and pleasant- Jon Elledge of The New Statesman describes him as "unfailingly pleasant and courteous".

However, others see him as more of the same for Labour- not a significant enough change from Ed Miliband to win at the next election- but, to be fair, this is the case for some of his opposition too. Some also see his past support of Tony Blair as an indication he will be too centrist for Labour.

NAME: Yvette Cooper

THE ONE WHO... was part of the first ever married couple in Cabinet.

LEFT OR RIGHT?: More towards the centre than Burnham- she has stated herself the need for Labour not to "veer to the left or the right".

- She seeks to address the vast socio-economic gap between the rich and poor, but without returning to "the remedies of the past, of Gordon Brown or Tony Blair".
- Reversing this Tory government's abolition of tax credits for third children.
- Creation of a 'Welfare Reform Commission' that will overhaul Universal Credit, reform housing and ensure easily accessible childcare for working parents.
- Boosting vocational education, to help Britain's tech industry. Cooper has proclaimed her belief in taking advantage of the 'white heat of the technological revolution', a reference to 1960s Labour PM Harold Wilson.
- Reduction of corporation tax- Cooper is of the belief that Labour must "reset our relation with business".

WILL SHE WIN?: Cooper arguably has the most impressive CV of the candidates. A graduate of Oxford, Harvard and the LSE, she has had a lengthy career in politics, beginning in researching roles, going on to help Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in the 90s, and returning to the UK to continue in various roles in government. She is proud of her instrumental part in rolling out Sure Start, believed by many to be one of Labour's most effective policies in recent times. However, she can be equally labelled a career politician, having spent little time out of the political sphere after graduation.

Many also see her as lacking definition- she has given very few indications of what her real policies would be as leader (the section above this took a long, long time for me to collect). Some say Cooper is playing it too much like a politician, too safe, by not making specific indications of her policy.

NAME: Jeremy Corbyn

THE ONE WHO... Part of 'bats**t Labour' according to many a Conservative, the "real deal" to those further on the left, and is simply 'OK' to Donald Trump.

LEFT OR RIGHT?: The furthest on the left out of these candidates by far.

- An end to austerity (the cutting of government expenditure), in order to protect and improve state health, education and transport systems and help those reliant upon welfare. This will be counterbalanced by an increase in the tax on wealthy individuals and corporations.
- One government expenditure that would be cut, however, would be on military. The scrapping of the Trident nuclear system and reduction in international intervention would free money for other plans, such as scrapping of university tuition fees.
- A refocus of 'Quantitative Easing'- a government under Corbyn would continue to print money, but this would go to a pot supporting "new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects" rather than investment banks.
- No military intervention in the Middle East- Corbyn is a staunch opponent of the tactic.
- Renationalisation of energy companies and the railways.

WILL HE WIN?: If you asked this to anyone a couple of months ago, you'd get a definitive 'no'. But, in typical British fashion, as the underdog he has surged in popularity, now in first place by as much as 32%. His being far further on the left than his opponents is deeply appealing to those disenchanted by the current right-wing state of British politics, those who see the main cause for Labour's defeat in May as their being simply 'Tory-lite' rather than a true alternative.

Jeremy Corbyn has equally been savaged by the right and even centre, both by individuals and the press. Tony Blair has described fans of the left-wing candidate as 'in need of a heart transplant' and the Daily Mail has frequently described him as the 'bearded loony' of the Labour Party, and some Labour MPs have voiced concern over Corbyn's leadership. MP Barry Sheerman has even called for the vote to be paused, to prevent him winning. This comes from a belief in both the Conservative and some of the Labour camp that Corbyn's election as leader would condemn Labour to a defeat in the 2020 General Election.

But for now, with his 30% lead, Jeremy Corbyn seems set to take hold of the Labour leadership. However, the pollsters were wrong in the General Election, and they could well be the same this time.

NAME: Liz Kendall

THE ONE WHO... some see as Labour's Margaret Thatcher.

LEFT OR RIGHT?: The most right-wing of the Labour leadership candidates. She is a great supporter of Blair's 'New Labour', an ideology largely shaped by the right-wing leadership of Thatcher and John Major in the 1980s and 90s.

- Increased support of business by the Labour Party- Kendall has announced that she wants "to lead a Labour Party that's genuinely as passionate about wealth creation as we are about wealth distribution".
- Continuation of the current government's spending target of 2% of the GDP on defence, and maintaining commitments to NATO.
- Investment of funds into improving early education for children, rather than cutting tuition fees.
- Backing of free schools and academies- something no other Labour candidate has promised.
- Kendall has implied strongly that she would make compulsory worker representation on company boards.

WILL SHE WIN?: It seems rather unlikely. Kendall's political position is certainly further to the right than any of her opponents, and thus is unlikely to appeal to a great deal of the Labour Party, a party dispositioned to the left. Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper have occasionally sought to present themselves as left wing candidates to compete with Jeremy Corbyn, but Kendall has made no such move.

However, it could be argued that Liz Kendall is the leader that Labour need, judging the current political climate of Britain. Some people believe the public is in favour of the right-wing Conservative policies, and thus in order for Labour to have a chance of winning in 2020 they need someone to compete. In this case, Kendall would be the ideal candidate to take away some of the centre-right votes of the Tories. 
Lone Editor

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