Catch-all candidate backed in after Labour leadership TV opener

The Labour leadership race hasn’t really kicked into action yet, which was evidenced by Ipsos Mori’s ‘dummy’ candidate Stewart Lewis pulling in 3% with the polling firm, more than half actual runner Jeremy Corbyn’s support, prior to the first televised hustings on BBC ‘Newsnight’.

Favourite Andy Burnham retained his market-leading status post-debate, while relative newcomer Liz Kendall didn’t show too many signs of callowness, although the perceived Blairite’s apparent ‘messaging’ strategy, which involves interminably repeating buzzwords like ‘tough choices’, became a bit wearying.

The big market mover since Wednesday has been Yvette Cooper, with the former Work and Pensions Secretary now 2/1 to take over from acting leader Harriet Harman in September, from 3/1 pre-hustings.

Cooper didn’t have a spectacular night on the Beeb, but the 46-year-old exudes confidence having held ministerial briefs in housing, economics and welfare, plus shadow roles as foreign affairs and home affairs spokesperson.

In an election that’s clearly polarising the Labour party, with Burnham on the soft left, Corbyn on the hard left, and Kendall about as right wing as you can get without being kicked out, Cooper is cutting through a useful intersection.


Liz Kendall hasn’t quite caught fire in the Labour leadership election

Her history helps – Cooper worked for both John Smith and Harman in the early 1990s, advising the latter during the formation of ‘New Labour’ midway through that decade, and became an MP in Tony Blair’s ‘Things can only get better’ 1997 landslide.

However, the member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford is also readily associated with Gordon Brown, being married to the former Prime Minister’s chief henchman Ed Balls and receiving her first ministerial posting when the Scot took over from Blair in 2007.

Furthermore, the fact that Cooper is a woman in a party that has never elected a female leader works massively in her favour, particularly with Tom Watson seemingly on course to snag the deputy gig, and concerns over Kendall’s ideology and lack of experience play into her hands.

Mayor of London candidate Diane Abbott revealed on BBC’s ‘This Week’ that she’ll be putting down Cooper as her second preference in the election, after Corbyn, and if the Shadow Home Secretary can hoover up such left-leaning support party-wide from the sisterhood, she stands a great chance of burning off Burnham.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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