Tomorrow we will know the new leader of the Labour party. From an onlooker’s point of view this has been the most interesting Labour leadership contest in years – because of the range of candidates and that, unlike the contests with Kinnock, Smith and Blair, we don’t know who will win.
My money is still on David Miliband. However I am swinging to Ed Miliband who has had an excellent campaign – he would be a difficult opponent for us, the main advantage would be any grievances David would feel working under his younger brother. Andy Burnham has had a good campaign and Diane Abbott has been endearing. Ed Balls has been his typical bullying self but would be useful to his boss.
Mrs Thatcher famously said ‘Every Prime Minister needs a Willie’ referring to Whitelaw. Under the same principle – every Labour leader needs Balls.
Locally, I have appeared a couple of times in the press (Your Swale) on the local recovery and on votes for prisoners – and have been in agreement with the Labour view. The local Labour party and ourselves agree on a lot of things – no surprise when we have such a dire Tory council in place. Labour are actually very good when attacking the Tories but unfortunately they spend most of their time attacking us and giving the Tories a free run – as we saw in the general election campaign.
It’s a shame we can’t do a deal with Labour for the council elections to try to knock a few Tories off. Labour will probably make progress next May but leave the Tories firmly in sole control for another four years - and that's bad news for Swale. But I have to admit to being tempted to enter a team in their upcoming quiz to try to improve anti-Tory cross party relations. But somehow I don’t think we will be allowed.
And we all wait to see the new Labour leader’s view on the Alternative Vote referendum. I have been in contact with the Take Back Parliament group to see how we could help but I want this to be a multi-party campaign not just Lib Dems.
The Tories will obviously be against any change. All the other parties are in favour. So Labour’s view will be crucial.
If the new Labour leader is prepared to break down the Con-Lab coalition which has consistently blocked genuine reform since 1945 – then at last we could be on the road to genuine change for a modern democracy.