Telegraph blogger Dan Hodges may be David Cameron’s favourite columnist and a massive pain in Labour’s derriere, but he does know a thing or two about the direction his old party are travelling.
The self-described ‘tribal neo-Blairite’ waded into the ongoing Labour leadership contest (will it ever end?) this week, but Hodges’ tone and suggested candidate will have come as a shock to many on the left.
Instead of throwing his weight behind Shadow Health Minister Liz Kendall, the clear Blairite runner in the race despite her protestations about ‘these old labels’, Hodges advocates backing Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper, who is more readily associated with the ‘Brownite’ wing of the party.
Here’s some of what Hodges had to say in his piece ‘Yvette Cooper should be the next Labour leader’:
“Liz Kendall is brave and imaginative. But as the contest has unfolded it has become increasingly obvious that she does not yet possess the experience or gravitas to be leader of a major British political party…
“Andy Burnham proved both in government and opposition – with his ferocious lobbying for a proper inquiry into the Hillsborough victims and his plans for radical reform of social care – that he is a politician of substance and principle. But over the course of the campaign he has become a self-parody – literally arguing he deserves to be elected because he has a scouse accent.”
Ultra leftist Jeremy Corbyn, the 16/1 outsider, is obviously ruled out with some scorn by the noted moderate, who goes on to rue the likelihood that Burnham and Cooper, the 1/1 jolly and 7/4 second-favourite, will ‘bludgeon’ each other to ideological death before one sneaks the leadership.
This will help tear the party into pieces, as it was in the early 1980s when Labour spent 18 years in the political wilderness; Hodges basically advocates getting behind Cooper because she’s the least-unviable candidate.
Crucially, he thinks his centrist lot should be seen as the faction that puts her in place, thus going some way to heal the recent rift in the party that started in an Islington restaurant 21 years ago, when Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s famous ‘deal’ over the leadership came to fruition.
It’s a compelling argument, especially coming from Hodges, and because Labour leaders are elected via the Alternative Vote system, ‘New Labour’ devotees needn’t worry about backing both Kendall and Cooper to keep Burnham out.
Never electing a permanent female leader is an embarrassing stain on Labour’s 115-year history, and with Kendall on the drift at 9/2, after challenging for favouritism a month ago, choosing Burnham over Cooper would be a very bad look.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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