Labour’s ugly contest begins

The choice for Labour's next leader boils down to another Tony Blair or another Neil Kinnock.

On Monday, Labour formally launched the contest to find Ed Miliband's successor as leader. All five potential candidates gathered at the GMB union's annual conference. If the audience had been "representative of the public at large", Labour could "sail to victory" under Jeremy Corbyn, who has "not wavered" in his left-wing beliefs since first elected in 1983, says Andy McSmith in The Independent.

However, Andy Burnham is still the candidate to beat, with the nominations of 53 MPs. Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have 41 and 36 respectively. Corby has 12 and Mary Creagh, five. Candidates need 35 to secure a place on the ballot paper, and nominations close next Monday.

Under new leadership rules, MPs have one vote, the same as any other party member, says Dan Hodges in The Daily Telegraph. "So nominations represent their final opportunity to exert major influence over the contest." But sending a "clear, decisive signal to Labour activists" is hard when most MPs seem conflicted as to "both their route and their guide".

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As one shadow cabinet minister put, do we want another Tony Blair (Liz Kendall)? Or another Neil Kinnock (Andy Burnham)? The first won three elections; the second lost two so the question may seem a "no-brainer". But it is far less straightforward for many Labour MPs. It's not just because they aren't convinced Labour is ready to "embrace an unabashed Blairite"; they also don't think any of the candidates has a "cat in hell's chance" of winning an election outright in 2020.

It's true that none is a convincing prime minister, says Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times, but the next general election is "wide open". Two more years of "intense fiscal consolidation could snap the public's patience". Europe could leave the Tories "in tatters". But Labour's "most compelling" grounds for optimism is Cameron's departure, which he has said will happen before the next election.

"Politics is about leadership." Cameron has led the party for a decade and voters like him. "None of Labour's leadership hopefuls" is in his class, but "none of them have to be. Their job is to defeat his successor" and the Tories will find him "hideously difficult to replace".

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 

On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.