This month’s UK General Election swung decisively towards the Conservative Party, where they gained 331 out of 650 constituencies, winning a slender majority. Polling right up till election day put the incumbent Conservatives and their opposition Labour virtually neck and neck. In fact, bookies made Ed Miliband the odds on favourite to reach Downing Street a week before election day. But when voting closed and the exit poll came out, the result was all too clear. Ed Miliband had failed to convince the electorate he was the right man to take the country forward. Not many can repudiate that the final few years of Labour Government left Britain in tumult, but few could have predicted the losses incurred by the party 5 years on.
In light of these events Ed Miliband did what had to be done and promptly resigned. Chuka Umunna and Andy Burnham swiftly entered the race, with figures like Tristram Hunt (what kind of name is Tristram?) and Yvette Cooper trailing behind.
But then something interesting happened.
Umunna pulled out of the race abruptly, citing the intrusive nature of the media when it came to his personal life. Then Hunt too backed out, realising he would not able to garner enough support to run. Both then backed Liz Kendall, who at the time was a relative unknown and Blairite alternative to the hugely popular union-backed Burnham.
So that brings us to today, where only 3 candidates are looking remotely close to breaking the 35 vote threshold required to run. Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper have 25 and 24 endorsements respectively, with Liz Kendall not far behind on 21. I mean, Mary Creagh is on 6, but who even knows who Mary Creagh is? Anyhow, what Labour needs is a leader that genuinely inspires, not one that struggles to eat a bacon sandwich. It’s fine to agree with Labour in principle. Heck, I do. But what it lacks is a leader that convinces you to truly think they will deliver. What Miliband said was appealing to the ears but did it really ring true to you? In the end Cameron’s economic competence led him to a comfortable victory but if Labour elects a leader with a backbone and firm beliefs, 2020 may not be so bleak for the party as people make it out to be. But let me be clear, if Labour fails in electing a truly charismatic leader this time around, who knows what the future holds. It was 100 years ago that Labour gained political prominence and a vapid leader will put them in their worst position in the last 100 years.
This is crucial moment in Labour’s history, and not one that will be forgotten easily, for better or for worse.