Is David Running Scared?

If ever there was a true “heir to Blair” it would be David Miliband. Mentored and politically raised by Tony and Cherie, his old boss is staying out of the race publicly, though he has apparently loaned David some of the Blair Foundation’s staffers for the duration of the campaign. Of all the candidates running David Miliband is meant to be the furthest to the right, but his piece in this morning’s Guardian is quite the eye-opener. Finally a leadership candidate is talking about the economy and the deficit. It doesn’t make for good reading though:

“If the Tories stick to their proposed formula of £4 of cuts for every £1 of tax rises this will see departmental spending slashed by a third outside of the NHS and international development. The balance should be 2:1.”

He goes on to call for an end to the charitable status for independent schools, extending the City bonus tax rather than raising VAT, a mansion tax and with faux naiveté he backs the “Robin Hood Tax“. Anyone would think Miliband was a little worried about his brother’s gaining popularity and is steering quite hard to the left. All good mood music to his party, but is an unconvincing shift in the direction of whacking up taxes really going to give him the keys to No. 10?

The Déjà vu Debate

It’s hardly radical to suggest the Labour Leadership contest hasn’t set fire yet. A flutter of excitement on nomination day, but the long summer of hustings and a few beer and sandwich sessions doesn’t exactly make for cut-throat stuff. But could it be about to be blown open by a TV debate?

Another day and another hustings, only this time it won’t be a sympathetic audience of wonks and left-wing media. Tonight the five candidates will be grilled not only by Paxman, but an audience of former Labour, and floating voters. People who won’t want to talk about internal party politics or electoral reform, but their wallets, immigration and the harsh realities of the current economic crisis. The whole thing will be going out live on Newsnight.

The chances of one of them coming unstuck, one of them “doing a Clegg”, or a bun-fight, is greatly increased tonight by the fact people, real voters, will actually be watching. For most of the television audience it will be the first time they have seen the candidates lined up and ready to be judged. If this doesn’t liven up the race, what will?

Ed Gets Taste of Poison

Despite the protestations of the Labour leader candidates that the days of spin and backstabbing anonymous briefings are over, the memo clearly hasn’t reached all the campaign teams yet as someone has been having quite the chat with the Mail’s Andrew Pierce. Ed Balls’s time as a member of Oxford University Conservative Association hasn’t gone down too well with a backbench colleague who was quick to twist the knife:

‘It’s astonishing that any Labour leadership contenders could have even considered paying money to join a Tory association in the mid-1980s. It’s sickening as he was paying them subs when Mrs Thatcher was wreaking terrible destruction on constituencies in the North of England that he represents. No wonder he is airbrushing his past.’

Sounds a lot like a man often used for rent-a-quotes. The justification was so that Balls could hear the likes of Michael Heseltine doesn’t really wash. Being a closet member of Oxford or Cambridge Conservative Association never did Nick Clegg any harm, just look where it got him.

The Younger is Gaining

Though caveated by the obvious fact this is hardly an independent poll, LabourList’s surveying of its readers shows some interesting patterns emerging in the otherwise still dull Labour Leadership race. Amongst Labour members David Miliband is, as expected, out in front on 37.7% of first preferences. Ahead, but not as far as he needs to be to win. His little brother is only six points behind on 31.6%. Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham seem to be living up to their well gossiped catch-phrase of “everyone’s second preference”.

The union vote, as important, is even more intriguing. Ed Balls’s only hope of victory would be to get the unions on board, but it looks like they are comprehensively rejecting him with 6.8% of first and 8.7% of second preference votes. The leftier Ed Miliband is, as expected, leading the union vote. He is going to hoover up those second preferences when his brother doesn’t make it through the first round far enough ahead.

Many would have thought Whelan would have Unite the Union vote sewn up for his old boss. During a leadership contest that is crucial to the future of the organisation that pays him £250,000 per year to represent them, he seems to have disappeared off to South Africa for a month of football. Word is he has lost the internal struggle to have Balls endorsed by Unite and was over-ruled by Woodley and Simpson. Guido hears Unite could be about to endorse the Younger.

Balls needs to be careful to avoid being beaten into last place – Abbot is in a far more comfortable position than he is at this stage of the race.

Full data here.

Labour’s Loonies Linger On

Guido hears that organisers of the weekend’s Compass conference were pleasantly surprised by the attendance. The fact there was a Labour leadership hustings certainly helped. If anything the conference should serve as a much-needed reminder for the candidates of quite how unelectable the left of the Labour Party is. Take a selection of propaganda they were giving out on behalf of dictatorial governments:

Venezuela Solidarity Campaign:

“Hugo Chavez today leads one of the most progressive governments in the world… transforming the lives of millions. The old ruling oligarchy and their allies in the US do not intend to allow Chavez to continue to redistribute power and wealth. Numerous attempts to destabilise and over throw Venezuela’s democratically elected government have taken place”

Cuba Solidarity Campaign:

“Cuba has a healthy, educated and vibrant society. The 1959 Cuban Revolution brought great advances in health, education and culture for the Cuban people, and continues to give hope and inspiration to millions of people across the world.”

These leaflets weren’t handed out by activists on the fringe but included in the official conference packs. The loony left is back and they are making noise, unless Labour are careful, they are going to upset the apple cart…

Balls Plays Sympathy Card

Ed Balls is looking for sympathy with claims in the Mirror this morning that he was bullied at school

“I was teased and bullied right through my school years about my name and stammer and it was merciless.

I wouldn’t say it reduced me to floods of tears but it was really tough.”

Guido has personal testimony from his former school-mates that he was indeed bullied because he was as insufferable then as he is now.  Balls also claims that the Tory high-command threw a lot of money at his constituency during the general election because they fear him most. Like his claim that his personal share of the vote only went down because of the BNP, it doesn’t stand scrutiny. His opponent raised a lot of money online because people disliked him so much, his vote went down for the same reason.  The BNP actually saw their vote go down in his now ultra-marginal constituency.

The truth is that Balls winning the leadership of the Labour Party would be cheered in CCHQ and Cowley Street.  Balls polls the worst negative rating of any front bencher, from any party.

Ellie (and Guido) Want #Balls4Leader

Remember Ellie Gellard (pictured) launching Gordon’s manifesto? She is hoping to repeat her campaign success all over again and is leading the online Twitter campaign to make Ed Balls the next leader of the Labour Party. It is going well, punters on the Political Smarkets betting exchange give him a 10% chance of winning. Ellie tweeted yesterday asking for messages of support for Blinky:

If you’re supporting @EdBallsMP and would like to tell us why, email me: ellie@edballs4labour.org

So Guido sent his own message of support and proudly added a #Balls4Leader twibbon to his own Twitter profile.

From: Guy Fawkes
Date: Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 10:45 AM
Subject: Why I want Ed to lead the Labour Party
To: ellie@edballs4labour.org

Dearest Ellie,

I think over the years Ed has shown the attributes, personality and judgement that would, if he were to become leader, guarantee Labour will remain in opposition. So Ed and I share the same goal, his victory over all other candidates for Labour leader.

Regards,

Guido

Guido would urge co-conspirators to show their support and add the twibbon to their Twitter profile. Ed can count on a lot of cross party support for his campaign to become Labour leader.

Many in CCHQ and Cowley Street have their fingers crossed that the Labour politician who polls the worst with the public could lead the opposition…

Better Suited For the Job

Though they give each other a run for their money on the stump, there is one battle that David Miliband is clearly beating his little brother in. Suits…

Shedding his Moss Bros-like, high-lapelled, black, three button number he wore on the international stage a while back, David now has the assistance of a discount to die for from Ozwald Boateng to sharpen up his image. You would think someone would have taken Miliband (minor) aside for a quiet word about what to look for in a whistle though.  Guido considers himself to be a bit of a fashionista so here is some free advice for Ed.

His jacket sleeves are two inches too short, the cut is too tight and it barely does up. It hangs like a damp sack. And that’s not to mention it’s a good three inches too short.

This is a man who wants to be Prime Minister, but wouldn’t look out-of-place addressing a regional conference of photocopier salesman.

Is this the End of the Itchy & Scratchy Show?

The jubilation of making it on to the ticket will pass for Diane Abbott. Not only will she be some £1,000 a week less well off for the duration of the 16 week campaign, but her seat on the This […]

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+ + + McDonnell Withdraws From Labour Leadership Race + + +

Three hours to go. Even if all his backers go for Abbot she will still be short. Developing…

UPDATE : Punters on Political Smarkets betting for and against her getting through to the next round, question is will all McDonnell’s […]

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McDonnell’s Thatcher Killing Fantasy

For all the discussion about the death of New Labour, if ever proof was needed that the project has failed and Labour’s loony left is still alive and well, just look at what one leadership contender had to say when […]

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What A Difference A Year Makes

It was exactly a year ago tonight that David Miliband chickened out from standing up to Gordon Brown for the second time and tarnished his reputation forever. As the European polls closed he let his old friend Purnell attempt to […]

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Sky News ask a “Labour representative” where the local St George’s Day events are. He replies:

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