So it turns out that after Brown resigned they had to pick a new person to be in charge of the moaners, sorry, Her Majesty's Official Opposition. Now the most obvious and best person to do this would be the current temporary leader Harriet Harman, she's got several features that make her easily the only sensible candidate. A) I've heard of her, B) She's damned good at PMQs, which is basically the entire job of being leader of the opposition, C) ... well basically that's it. But that's all she needs.
Unfortunately, real world politics is never as simple as that, and she has ruled herself out, which is a very sensible move on her part. This way she gets to lock herself into the position of deputy leader forever and have a shot at a lot more power over a lot longer period than she would if she ran for leader and won, and a hell of a lot more than if she failed.
So that being done I guess we'll have to go with one of the people who has run, these are, in the order that I remembered their existence:
- David Miliband, who is apparently just Tony Blair again. Which is great if electoral success, a lot of power, disastrous decisions, being hated by everyone and getting millions selling really bad books and giving bad speeches is your thing.
- Ed Miliband, brother of Tony Blair. Apparently he's interesting because he thinks that socialism is more important than being electable.
- Diane Abbot, a black woman. Used to sit next to that ugly chap on This Week.
- Ed Balls, he's called Balls, he looks like a headtecher, but not a very successful one. I think he thinks that the teachers are planning to gang up on him at break.
- Some guy from the north.
What's shocking about this leadership contest is just how avoidable it has been. I consider myself reasonably well informed about politics, but I know almost nothing, I know there's been a background of things happening and speeches made, but hand on heart I cannot name one notable event out of this entire contest. Not one moment where someone said something stupid, racist, insensitive, angry, impassioned, not one drunken punch-up after a hustings. I know that lots of things have been said and if I'd only go and find out what they were I'd know more, but that's not the point, this is politics, it's not about me finding out what you stand for, you have to tell me. you have to make it exciting. I'm not supporting the politics of spectacle, but would one of you please do something that will cause just one little trending topic on twitter.
There are a few complexities in working out who will win, because they somehow weigh votes of the MPs, the members of the Labour Party and the members of the various trades union (yes, trades union, that's apparently the way you say it if you're pointing attention to how much more grammar than any normal person you know) against each other. That and each of the 3 electorates gets to vote by AV. But, so far the impression I get is that David M. will win the first preference contest, but that he runs the serious risk of loosing if the second preferences are skewed in favour of Ed M.
I'm not a labour party supporter, nor do I think that electing any particular leader would be so massively better than any other either for Labour or for the country that I think it's worth my while campaigning. However, I am quietly pleased by the potential for Ed M. to win.
Firstly having an alleged socialist who isn't obviously an idiot in charge of a serious political party would be a nice change, there's not nearly enough choice in our politics at the moment, and a bit of distance between the parties cant hurt. Secondly I am told by a reliable source that Ed is regarded as a geek, this is excellent, there need to be far more geeks in positions of power, for far too long power has lain in he hands of the popular people of this world, and the time for a geek uprising to claim our rightful place back is long overdue. Third, and a little bit naughtily, if Ed gets in based on second preferences that would make the AV referendum a lot more interesting.
At the moment the Labour party has for reasons apparently best known to itself chosen to largely ally with the Tories against AV. Now I for one think this is a miscalculation and best and seriously misguided at best. AV alleges to be about political reform, and until recently a lot of the Labour party seemed to think so too. Now you can argue about the specifics of AV vs AV+ vs PR and the constituency reforms and the coalition and everything else, but seriously, Labour, here's a hint, you're supposed to be reforming, progressive, as a general rule if you're fighting against a reform and with the Tories then you need to seriously ask yourself what the hell you are doing.
However, if the leader of the Labour party were to be elected by AV, and specifically by AV, against the first preferences of his party, that would make strong arguments from the Labour party as an organisation a lot harder. Which at the very least goes a way towards balancing the party firepower. Which is a lot more interesting at the very least, even if it doesn't bring about some kind of miraculous world where the parties cancel out so the winner is chosen by the arguments rather than pure politics.