Next Labour leader market opens up as Andy Burnham tacks right

Liz Kendall, the Labour MP for Leicester West and Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, has halved in price to 3/1 since being tipped up on at the end of last week, which surely reflects Her Majesty’s Opposition’s lurch back towards the centre since losing the General Election.

There has been a lot of talk from senior Labour politicians, including acting leader Harriet Harman, of the party, and not the Unite union, picking the next red head, but Len McCluskey will do well to find a socialist among the current crop of declared candidates.

The litmus test for the new leader seems to be denouncing former leader Ed Miliband’s claims, made a week before May 7th’s poll, that his lot weren’t spending too much prior to the financial crisis seven years ago.

Immediately after declaring to run on May 10th, Kendall unequivocally stated that Labour had overspent, as did Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt a few days later on the BBC’s ‘Question Time’.

The noted historian hasn’t yet made his mind up whether to stand, but is in the market at 10/1 with Ladbrokes.

5/4 favourite Andy Burnham, 3/1 shot Yvette Cooper and 12/1 outsider Mary Creagh have struggled to come down either way on the question of Labour’s economic competence.

Cooper, of whom New Statesman Deputy Editor Helen Lewis suggested ‘her heart isn’t in it’ on the BBC’s ‘Sunday Politics’, has preferred to focus on Labour’s economic achievements, such as building and refurbishing schools and hospitals, while Creagh needed a few attempts before admitting over the weekend that they did spend too much pre-crash.

Burnham is in a particularly sticky situation, having been Chief Secretary to the Treasury for six months between 2007-2008. The Evertonian has been dancing on the head of a pin in his attempts to please all sides, but risks being run over before he gets to the middle of the road.

The 2010 leadership election emphatically showed that Labour is split down the middle, with Ed and David Miliband grabbing 50.65% and 49.35% in an Alternative Vote run-off.

After the perceived ‘left’ lost so emphatically earlier this month, the Blairite right is clearly in the ascendency; economic competence coming to the forefront of the campaign proves this.

With that in mind, and with Burnham spreading himself too thinly, there’s still value in backing Kendall at 3/1.

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

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Iain Houten

Iain has been contributing pieces to various websites on an array of subjects, including sports, politics and art, for over four years. Despite blue being his favourite colour, the teams he supports all wear red.