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Why are the Right endorsing Liz Kendall?

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4_edited-1Why are the Right endorsing Liz Kendall? I’m not talking about the right of the Labour Party, but the proper rightPeople like The Sun. People like “helpful” Tories telling any hack who cares to listen that she is the candidate they most fear. People like heads of business who like what she has to say about deficit determinism and “living within our means“. Of course, it’s most unlikely these people will be calling for a Labour vote in 2020 whether Liz is leader or not. After all, a section of Britain’s establishment remain forever uncomfortable with our party’s progressive potential and would rather not have it in office again. Yet Liz, as they acknowledge, really believes the Blairite playbook and, as far as they’re concerned, does offer Labour’s surest way back to power. What then is happening? Do they genuinely wish to see Liz as Labour’s leader, and why? 

Some thoughts.

ONE: This is not an under-the-radar sting operation, albeit more competent and more shady than Toby Young’s hapless efforts to sign Tories up to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership bid. They genuinely do believe, unlike me, that Liz is Labour’s route to success. She’s the nearest of the contenders to the Blair formula of tacking right, saying the “unsayable”, and piling up the votes. They share the tedious, and almost wholly wrong view that Labour was too left to win the election – and conveniently ignore the evidence that the Tories didn’t win it from the centre either. So there is a meeting of minds, an acknowledgement of something of a kindred spirit.

TWO: The right like to see themselves as gatekeepers. If someone is to be elevated to high office, it can only be done with their permission. As “leaders” they have to look as though they’re ahead of events, even if this is not the case. In 1997 and 2010, The Sun in particular endorsed Blair and Dave respectively because, they thought, they had to be seen to back a winner. Similar calculations came into play when the Scottish edition of the paper plumped for the SNP, even while in the rest-of-the-UK Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond were denounced as Caledonian commies. Whatever you think of Liz, she has an analysis of what went wrong, has already set out what she would do as leader, and has that element of freshness about her that people can project their hopes and desires onto. She looks every inch the break with the dread Miliband, and as her star rises who wouldn’t want to be associated with that?

THREE: The Tories are more than capable of winning the next general election. Forget the coming gerrymander, though that is important, the government’s policies are going to create ever great social anxiety and precarity that, ultimately, helped them with the majority this time round. Who’s to say that can’t happen again? However, there will come a time when the Tories are dumped out of power and Labour forms the government again. What would the Tories and their helpers in the press like that new Labour government to look like? Would they, like the 13 years of Blair and Brown, have a government that changes some things but leaves the fundamentals of the political economy from which they benefit fundamentally intact, or take a chance on someone whose Labourism involves some challenges to the powers that be, as Ed Miliband’s politics certainly did. Better to have the Tories replaced by someone they can do business with than otherwise.

FOUR: A Liz Kendall leadership also offers the best chance for a more disciplined Labour party, disciplined that is in ways congenial to the right. We know what the party is like. Most activists and Labour-loyal commentators very much pull their punches and generally abstain from scathing internal polemic when a leader is in position. The last thing the right want is Labour to challenge some of their austerity agenda. That adds legitimacy to the kinds of politics promulgated by the trade unions who, at least as far as our opponents are concerned, are utterly beyond the pale (knighthoods or no). They’re banking on the loyalism of lesser-evilism kicking in, and the party – as well as the wider movement – getting behind a programme that does not challenge the settlement the Tories are trying to impose. It’s a long range strategy of containment.

13 Comments

  1. James Martin says:

    Or there is simply a hope that she will complete ‘The Project’ that Blair left half-done (due to an illegal war of course).

    Kendal is their best hope of completing a split with the unions so that organised labour has no formal political representation and are therefore reduced to the US model of sponsoring some individual Democrat liberals rather than collective socialists, and that socialism itself is further removed from the Party programme as she apes the small state monetarists and attacks the welfare system.

    You only have to look on Labour List and Labour Uncut to see the Blairites positively frothing at the mouth at the prospect of this, and recoiling in horror at the fact that Party members and the wider population now have a genuine left-wing candidate to vote for. In fact whereas I hated the associated member idea due to it being designed to weaken union influence I am rather enjoying it now!

    The other thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that there are only two candidates interesting enough to warrant any comment or debate and the two ‘centre’ candidates are rapidly becoming invisible – although I suspect one of them is still likely to win due to the AV system and the power of second preference voting. Mind you Jeremy got 82% of the public vote in the Mirror poll this week on who won the first TV debate so if everyone keeps pushing and signing up those affiliated supporters who knows?

    1. Dave Walsh says:

      Not you again, the ‘war’ cost Labour thousands of members and millions of voters not all of whom were ‘loony lefties’, far from it. Yes, it’s history, but history has consequences, one of which is less people prepared to deliver leaflets, less prepared to vote Labour.

      1. john P Reid says:

        Technically it only cost laobu 1.14million votes, as Labour got 10.7m in 2001 an d9.58 in 2005, but i think there would have been people who stoppevoting alaobur due to Blunketts time in the Home office by 2005 rather than iraq same with the amount of immigratuon,unfortunately alot of those labour votes went to the BNP,or the Tories who of course voted for Iraq,

        BillerickyDickie is about Iraq now, no one cares,look at the Libdems opposed to it, had worse result ever,

  2. Oh come on, it’s amazing how we fall for this reverse psychology, they have to put us off those that might allow us to win.
    The leader is not the party, or the policy, they are the face the public can relate to that channels policy, in many ways who the chancellor icounts for more.
    Liz Kendall is the only candidate that will see us win, rather than consigned to more opposition in 5 years.
    Politics is about being clever enough, surely, to get our agenda on the table. We can’t do it if we have not debated that agenda and if we don’t win .
    We have to ask are we electing a future prime minister or a leader of the opposition for the next ten years?

  3. Klaus says:

    It’s quite obvious, the right want to an engineer a situation where the people have a choice between two Tory parties come election time.

    The Tories are lording it up, now, but a week is a long time in politics, let alone five years.

    The seeds of another financial crisis are already being sewn and when the shit hits the fan the right want a Labour party signed up to the ‘principles’ of permanent austerity.

  4. gerry says:

    Good article, but I couldn’t care less about who the Right endorses or who it demonizes…for me I will vote for the candidate who I believe will have a vision and a programme, will communicate with conviction, and, most importantly will help our party reconnect so that 13-14 million of them vote for us, as opposed to the 9 million we just got last May.

    If Jeremy can convince me that under him we can keep all our voters AND get at least 3-4 million more in constituencies in England and Wales like where I live now (a Tory seat in Sussex with a 5,000 majority but one which Labour held between 1997 and 2010), then he gets my vote…

    If Liz Kendall convinces me likewise, then I would hold my nose and vote for her…like many Labour people i will always prefer a Labour government, even a centrist or right wing one, to a Tory one…having lived through 18 years of nonstop Tory rule in the 80s and 90s, I don’t want them to have another 15 to 20 years in unbroken power.

    Yvette and Andy (so far) are truly underwhelming, uninspiring, and come across as fakes, tacking to whatever wind they feel will blow them towards the leadership, and neither have any convictions which might enthuse….whereas both Jeremy and Liz actually believe what they are arguing for.

    1. Gerry this is why I will also be looking at Ben Bradshaw fro deputy as he is a southern MP and understands how to break the Tory grip, he worked as a journalist and understands the media, as I keep saying the leader and the deputy are figureheads, vehicles to get across a message (but vehicles that the media must love) who the chancellor is and what our vision policies and conviction will be as equally important.

      1. gerry says:

        Labouringlife – interesting your analysis re Bradshaw, and his Exeter base. So far both Tom Watson and Stella Creasy seem to understand the sheer scale of the task facing us, and I think any of those three might get my vote…

        1. John P Reid says:

          Understanding the sheer scale and not being able to do anything about it are different things, Wayson going to a inner London constituency to talk to union leaders about how some ex voters went Ukip,or writings article in the guardian, plus Watson using his bullying ways to get people,normally volunteers too put more work in wont work, he may have set up labour first ,and got rid of Blair, but he’s stuck to the Ed miliband way, we’ll get back ex voters on the 35% strategy, by denouncing New labour, which failed last month.
          Creasy, is young and keen,but hasn’t a clue about getting back ex labour voters who went Ukip, up north ,if anything for all her faults, Flint knows it, and eagle has experience of those voters,based where she is.

          1. gerry says:

            John – hmm, we shall see…I just don’t see anything about Caroline or Angela which enthuses me or makes me think they can cut through even as a figurehead? Whereas Creasy and Watson certainly have presence and charisma…

    2. John P Reid says:

      Definitely, if Cooper or Burnham wins, they’ll be blairites and be called Ramsey Mc Burnham or Cooper with in months, there was a Article on Huffungton post, saying blairites are all around Cooper and look at burnhams team, Charlie Falconer etc

  5. John P Reid says:

    Although the Sun backed Blair in 97′ it was after Thatcher told Murdoch,not too worry about him he was A patriot, and that he was blown away by his 1995 speech saying he could be the new JFK, Blair hardly had the Press on his side like Thatcher,veecially the Mail, the sun didn’t always back winners, backing Wilson who lost in 70 and only just won in 1970

    Surely as socialists we’d sooner have seen Cameron as Tory PM ,than may or Boris, so as Tories they’d sooner see Liz as leader, you could argue they’d like to see Jeremy as PM, be so bad as labour were in 1974 that PM Corbyn like the 74 gov’t could put us out of power for 20 years.

    The Sun jokingly backed Livingstone /Bernie grant who stood on a joint ticket to win in 1992 as they felt there leadership, would have destroyed labour, I wouldn’t call the sun or its readers, neccasarily right wing, even in the 80’s more than half voted labour, the sun having backed labour and the Tories 6 times each, only twice, not backing the winner,

    Depends what’s described as right wing regarding Liz backers, Dan hodges and Rod liddle,

    Blaming Liz for Paul Jenny’s knighthood, really.

  6. Barry Ewart says:

    As a left wing democratic socialist I am of course backing Jeremy – the only anti-austerity candidate.
    If Jeremy (which I believe he is) is for power back to annual conference and the freedom for CLPs to choose their own shortlists and candidates then a vote for him is also a vote for members to re-empower themselves.
    We don’t need top down, we need a leader who is also a faciltator for grassroots opinion.

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