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Could my 50/1 bet on Liz Kendall being the next Labour leader be a winner in the next few months?

February 1st, 2015

This afternoon it was reported that

Liz Kendall has emerged as a new challenger in a future Labour leadership battle, exacerbating Ed Miliband’s difficulties as party leader. Although some Labour figures have dismissed the rumours around the Leicester West MP as “the Blair Witch Project,” she is emerging as a favourite among Blairite MP.

Interest in the shadow health minister rose after she gave an interview to House magazine saying that for the NHS “What matters is what works”. A key Blairite told the Independent, “Liz is incredibly impressive on TV, has years of experience in government and really believes in the reforming agenda that Tony started.”

For those who backed Liz Kendall at 50/1 or higher, this is great news.

From the outside, it appears Tony Blair has become the Emmanuel Goldstein of the Labour party, but the candidate in the last Labour leadership that was considered the most Blairite won the vote among the MPs and the party members, ultimately it was the votes of union members that deprived him of the leadership. So being a Blairite might not be the toxic hindrance people assume.

It was obvious that some Blairites consider Ed’s approach to winning the General Election to be the wrong one, but if Ed loses the election, then those promising to follow on from Tony Blair, of the only man to have led Labour to a working majority in the last 49 years might have an advantage over non Blairite candidates, as they can point running on a non Blairite platform didn’t lead to victory.

The fact that only one bookie has her listed, reflects her status as an outsider, but given she is already receiving briefings against her makes me think that there is something is happening on the leadership front.

The Sunday Times reports (££), “In the event of a Labour defeat, the group of frontbenchers — dubbed “Neo Labour” — wants to back a “healing candidate” for leader to end the Brownite stranglehold on the party represented by Miliband and Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor…..Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, is understood to have privately backed Chuka Umunna, who is dubbed “the Neo” of Neo Labour, after the hero of the film The Matrix.”

The downside for any Blairite candidate is this

Privately the Neo Labour frontbenchers are furious that Milburn and Hutton’s behaviour means the Blairites could be blamed for an election defeat. One prominent figure said: “It was f****** unhelpful. Why do it now? Why get the blame if we lose? It’s very damaging for the rest of us.”

If we do have a Labour leadership contest during the summer, then it could be taking place in the background of the publication of the Chilcot report, when the focus and attention will be on Tony Blair’s most controversial decision of his Premiership, so not being a Blairite might help.

But the most interesting fact about this, as I observed last year, and James Forsyth notes today.

 

All the  odds on the next Labour Leader can be found here.

TSE