- Andy Burnham: the blog post which said "there is a token candidate for the leadership - his name is Andy Burnham" says it all. A nice guy, but hopeless.
- Diane Abbot: not as bad as many people have been saying, and will probably pick up more votes than most pundits realise. She's unlikely to win, though.
- Ed Balls: good, hard-hitting soundbites attacking the coalition's economic policy fatally underlined by a neanderthal stance on immigration, as previously taken apart on this blog. Also not the most popular flavour in the jelly bean pack with voters... in fact probably the hardest sell of all 5 candidates. (Diane has a lot of voter recognition through being on the TV a lot, and who the hell could dislike Andy Burnham? He's the Ronnie Corbett of Labour politics. But if you remember Ronnie in Sorry! that's what Burnham would be like as leader... a bit of a laugh.
- Dave Miliband: now we start coming to the real contenders. He has been steadily trying to move away from his 'microBlair' days with a spirited pitch to the soft left on some issues, interspersed with splashes of the old Blairite rhetoric. In short, a little something for every voter in this leadership contest - and therefore maybe tickling all the bases and not nailing any of them. His campaign team is good and features some real radicals, the delivery is smooth and assured, but I still can't quite convince myself that Dave really means it. I just sense the dead hand of Tony Blair lurking round the corner. I'd be happy to be proved wrong, but I'm sorry Dave, I couldn't vote for you even if I was eligible (and unless I join the Labour Party I'm not - more on that later). Also, what is the government's enquiry into torture going to come up with? As Foreign Secretary at the time, did Dave knowingly go along with extraordinary rendition? If he knew the British state was complicit in torture there's no way he should be anywhere near the Labour leadership. Or indeed anywhere at all, apart from a prison cell.
- Ed Miliband: for me, the obvious choice. A smooth soft left pitch with maybe a dash of something harder in the mix. Can be smooth, like Dave, or more of a rottweiler, like Balls, depending on what's required ("the emissary from planet f***", he was nicknamed by members of the Blair entourage when he was a Brown special adviser). Also has enough cabinet experience to avoid looking like a novice but is a recent enough entry into Parliament to still seem pretty fresh (and wasn't in Parliament during Iraq, which helps A LOT.) If I do end up joining Labour my vote will be for Ed.
And that in my view, is A Very Good Thing. Perhaps we should be nervous though that Simon Heffer, of all people, is suggesting that Ed could be prime minister within a year. Now one school of thought is that support is a good thing wherever it comes from. But when it's the Heff, that seems crazy. I haven't read the article in any detail yet.. it was linked from LFF. I'll read it in a minute.
So anyway, carry on Ed. You can do it. Just don't f***ing let us down if you do win. I'm already minded to join the Greens... not because of anything Ed or the other candidates have done, but because there's no way Caroline Lucas is gonna sell anyone out. And in these days of duplicity, double dealing and splintered manifesto commitments, I find that reassuring.