At last Labour leadership hustings, the party fails to unite

Tuesday 25th February 2020
Keir Starmer

On Sunday, the last of a series of hustings was held in Durham for the leadership of the Labour party, but it appears that the government’s opposition is still in disarray.

News headlines are dominated by the coronavirus epidemic, the imminent negotiations with the EU, potential trade talks with the US and the ongoing flooding issues around the country. However, while each of these topics are serious enough in themselves to warrant an opinion from the opposition, currently without a leader to steer the party, they are all but impotent.

The hustings in Durham, part of an extraordinarily complicated and lengthy process, was regarded by many observers as little short of a shambles.

This was the last time that contenders will be baying for support before the process of voting finally begins next Monday, but it seems that there is still no specific drive for the direction that the party should take after Corbyn.

At a moment in time when the Opposition should be holding the government to account over the headline issues of the day, especially when an  80-strong majority is emboldening many of their positions, Labour still seem limp and scattered.

Candidates, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer(pictured above) and Lisa Nandy answered their colleagues questions, confirming that all of them would incorporate the others in their shadow cabinet should they win, but no-one stop out as charismatic enough, or clear enough to deliver a seductive message to the electorate.

And of course, it is the voters whose opinion really matters.

Having lost four general elections in a row, and with the worst performance at the ballot box for decades, if a leader does not emerge who has a clear message that UK citizens can support, a fifth defeat looks inevitable.

Currently the decision appears to lie between someone who looks good in a suit versus someone who can rally the crowds with Corbynistic rhetoric versus an articulate but unknown entity.

Long-Bailey has the backing of the unions, but stands in the shadow of Corbyn, who many regard as the reason that they lost in December. Starmer ‘looks’ like a serious politician but appears to have little passion to drive the party forward and Lisa Nandy is a northern  female, who talks eruditely but has had little experience at the top of politics.

Those present at the weekend reported that Starmer or Long-Bailey would probably win the leadership race, but that neither prospect spelt much hope for the near future.

It seems that the runaway train that Boris Johnson is currently driving has little chance of being stopped anytime soon.

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