Shell-shocked Labour candidates staring into a Ukip-lite abyss

The fact that Ladbrokes see white, male, working-class pair Andy Burnham and Tom Watson as the most likely next Labour leader/deputy leader combination, at 11/4, isn’t good reading for a party that considers itself a positive proponent of diversity.

It’s not as if there are no women in the races to be Labour’s number one and two, with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper only just behind 5/4 favourite Burnham at 13/8 for the top job, while both Stella Creasy and Caroline Flint are keeping 4/6 jolly Watson honest at 3/1 and 4/1 for deputy.

The biggest issue the party believes they have to face, judging by recent column inches at least, is how to wrest former Labour voters from Ukip’s grasp, although a number of political commentators have suggested that focusing on immigration is a fool’s errand against Nigel Farage’s lot.

Watson won’t stop banging on about immigration, with the West Bromwich East MP the recent subject of a Guardian piece entitled ‘Labour has to understand why so many of its supporters voted for Ukip’, which begins with the 48-year-old’s reply to what his mate Gordon Brown might call a ‘bigoted woman’:

“She didn’t really think we should microchip all immigrants; what she was trying to say was that the system isn’t working.”

This sentence really gets to the heart of the matter regarding Labour’s Ukip problem, as former New Statesman contributor and Executive Director of think tank CentreForum Nick Tyrone recently summed up in his blog:

“This tactic will never, ever work. If you want to vote for an anti-immigrant party, UKIP will always be a better bet.”

We’ll be hearing plenty of this if a Burnham/Watson leadership comes to fruition, and Ukip came second in Cooper’s Yorkshire constituency, with almost 10,000 votes, so she would be practically compelled to talk to them.

The party seems to be complicit in Labour’s direction of travel, with Blairite leadership candidate Liz Kendall, who is perceived as more pro-business, and thus more pro-immigration, than Burnham and Cooper, on the drift in the betting at 4/1, having been as short as 7/4 at one point.

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.