Dan Hodges writes…
“This leadership election is dire. The candidates are exhausted. The contest is mired in tedium. There is lots of sound, but precious little fury. We are a beaten party going through the motions, and it shows.”
Despite basing his campaign out of Manchester, even Andy Burnham can’t resist the lures of t’big smoke:
He has invited the great and good of the business world to a breakfast meeting where he will be trying to boost his lacklustre campaign with answers to some big questions. A chance for a hob-nob and maybe even to tap up a donation or two:
Guido’s bowler-hatted and pin-striped co-conspirator was a little surprised when he tried to RSVP as instructed to Mark Glover, the proud owner of an @andy4leader.com email address. Expecting the campaign office, he was instead put through to “Bellenden Public Affairs”, a corporate spin merchants based just over London Bridge from the heart of the City’s Square Mile.
Glover, its founder and a Labour man, may well be volunteering for the campaign by helping Burnham mingle in the City, but he is using his business line and office facilities to do so. Thus Guido presumes such a donation-in-kind will be properly costed and declared by Andy to the proper authorities? Not sure how using a London headquartered corporate spin merchants will help to dispel “the impression that the elite was running the country” which he bangs on about at hustings…
It is fair to say that London Labour’s activists and wonkish elite are by and large behind Ed Miliband, unless they are ideological Blairites (like the Progress crowd) or careerist greasy pole climbers like most MPs, in which case they are behind David Miliband. The headbanging Tory hating activists go for Balls and lefties back Abbott with Burnham picking up a Northern token vote.
Supporters of Ed Miliband are adamant, despite polls showing David has more than twice as much support among Labour supporters, that he will win on second preferences. Will Straw at LeftFootForward has even built a predictive model that forecasts Ed scraping through. Yet punters persist in making David Miliband the runaway favourite. Are the punters or the wonks right?
Guido accepts that Ed will probably win the union’s endorsements, though the Fabian’s Sunda Katawala argues that doesn’t necessarily mean he will win the votes of union members. Punters agree with Will and give Ed a 60% chance of winning the union votes.
Guido and punters make David the 80% favourite to win the MP/MEPs vote. Will forecasts it will be closer than that but accepts that David will win this part of the electoral college.
It is over the membership vote that Will’s model and punters differ dramatically. Based on a non-representative, self-selecting poll of LabourList’s readers (DM 34.9% EM 30.8%), he predicts that the second preferences from the more left-wing candidates will switch to Ed and he will thus beat his older brother. The argument being that since Ed is positioned to the left of David, second preferences won’t tack right to the most centrist candidate. This is delusional.
Not all the voters will see the candidates in such finely calibrated positions on the centre-to-left spectrum, much of the electorate will vote on character and personality. Apart from Diane Abbott the policy positions of the candidates are in reality very closely bunched and Ed Balls’ new found tactical leftism is transparently risible. Experience shows that second preferences tend to break in correlation with first preferences. The correlation isn’t perfect, but nor is it so weak as to be insignificant. Yet Labour sympathisers in the media and even more objective pundits like Toby Young believe Ed will come through.
So if it will be decided by the membership vote, is the LabourList poll accurate? It is unlikely that a self-selecting web poll will be. YouGov actually put Balls ahead of Ed Miliband but behind David with Labour voters (and another private poll by Survation put Diane Abbot within 5% of Ed among union members). With the polling confusion Guido puts little reliance on the sampling and absent of clear polling evidence Guido opts to “follow the money”. David Miliband has raised more money than all the rest and he has the weight of punter’s money backing him. It will be close, but Guido suspects Ed will lose to his big brother.
Last month Guido noted, with camp disdain, the appalling suits that wannabe Prime Minister Ed Miliband was wearing on the campaign trail. Compared to his older brother’s Ozwald Boateng numbers, Ed looked like a highly flammable, polyester-clad, mobile phone salesman. Well it seems he hit a nerve as Ed is now proudly sporting a new Clegg-like sharper number, did his brother share the discount he got? Not sure Ed’s really a crushed silk kind of guy though?
In case you missed it before PMQs, the news has emerged that giant health union Unison have backed Ed Miliband. It’s hard to see Unite not following suite next week. The betting markets have moved on the back of it and the Younger can expect money to start coming in.
This is a big blow to the Balls campaign who were depending on these backings to stay in the game…
A YouGov poll seen by Paul Waugh has the “I don’t care” block dominating the Labour leadership vote. Over half of people polled do not have a preferred candidate. David Miliband is in second with 22%, with Diane Abbott behind him on 11%, followed by the Younger Miliband on 9%. Ed Balls, for all the fluster, media appearances and rehabilitation has scraped the support of just 3% of voters. Andy Burnham is bringing up the rear with just 2%. While this is the wider public, they will be the ones deciding at real elections, rather than internal battles.Things change when the poll is broken down to just Labour voters with David up to 29%, Balls 13% and Ed Miliband on 12%. The same order as the donation rankings, funnily enough.
Think I have got Gordon off the idea of “helping” with the campaign. Told him I would be proud to have him sit behind me in the chamber. It dawned on him that he wouldn’t be sitting on the front bench. Pretty sure we won’t see him in parliament being mocked by the Tories.
Another day, another school. Ellie is really good at finding peeling paint to film in front of, some sixth formers got a bit tricky asking why the schools were falling down after 13 years of a government committed to educashun, edukazion, educayson. Dealt with that by blaming Alistair for not printing more money.
Got back to parliament for another late finance vote, was on the terrace knocking them back with Vernon, Ellie and some of her friends who were being quite saucy when, out of nowhere, Yvette pops up, puts her hand on my shoulder and says “we have to be going“ pausing only to coldly look down her nose at Ellie’s long, luscious, exposed legs.
Next thing I know Yvette is pushing me down the terrace steps. Turns out that Tom Watson then took it upon himself to show the girl a good time in Soho after the vote. She looked more hung-over than Sally this morning.
Campaign is going brilliantly, it is almost as if Gove wants me to be the next Labour leader. Some strategic brain he is. Mandelson slagging me off in his book and Cameron at PMQs can only help with the core vote.
Blinking negligible, not looking forward to doing This Week with Andrew Neil tomorrow night. Will have to get the surgical glue out after last time.
I will be leader. I will be the fourth man.
David Miliband proudly published his formidable donors list on his website yesterday. Intriguingly the law firm Mishcon de Reya have given the favourite in the race £13,077 through a donation-in-kind of legal services. This strikes an odd note given David’s less than amiable relationship with said law firm previously.
Last year John Jackson, Mishcon’s chairman, accused the then Foreign Secretary of a breach of the rule of law over the case of the tortured terrorist suspect Binyam Mohamed. For someone now providing valuable support through his firm, he has certainly changed his tune. Jackson wrote:
“The Foreign Secretary has, apparently, said that the judges were mistaken and that at no time did US authorities make the threats set out in the judgement. This is said to have been confirmed by very senior U.S. spokespeople. If the judges were mistaken what, precisely, was the basis of the Foreign Secretary’s Immunity Certificate? And, come to think of it, why is he the Minister concerned with intelligence sharing? This is beginning to look like the proverbial can of worms.“
Three days later the donor went even further and hinted that Miliband was not being entirely straight regarding whether the US threatened British authorities about the case:
“David Miliband now claims the US authorities did not make threats in relation to the sharing of intelligence information and that he had not raised this aspect of the BM case with colleagues in the US since the inauguration of President Obama. This is so astonishing as to defy belief when placed next to what the Divisional Court said in its last judgement published last Wednesday“
David Miliband’s own brother doesn’t think he is the best man for the job, and even those who are throwing money at him seem to doubt his honesty. When both blood and money question the man, eyebrows are inevitably raised. If they don’t trust him, why should anyone else? What changed Jackson’s mind about David Miliband? Why the cash? What was promised?