The Labour Leadership – Who We’re Backing

Here at the Great and the Good, the very nature of the blog as a collaborative effort means that we often have diverging views – though with the Labour leadership, after casting a vote amongst ourselves, we’ve decided on a first preference (the candidate four out of six of us are supporting) and a second preference (who’s backed by the other two). We also unanimously came out in support for a deputy leadership candidate.

So in the following article, we’re gonna lay out who we’re backing and why, both for the leader and the deputy.

Leader – Yvette Cooper

Yvette is the most experienced candidate and a truly progressive politician. Despite cries of “Tory lite” by some, in government she spearheaded programmes such as Sure Start, and is now proposing policies such as two million high skilled manufacturing jobs (a move to push make Britain a more hi-tech economy, echoing Labour’s embracement of technology in the 1960s), buffer zones outside abortion clinics and two million new homes in a decade. Along with this are polices you’d expect from any potential Labour leader such as a true living wage and reversing the Tory attack on the unions.

However, a policy based argument isn’t going to win many of you over, and indeed wasn’t what won at least two of us over.

If you look at the “About Us” page, all but one of us identify as socialists – so why would we be backing Yvette Cooper, and not Jeremy Corbyn? The simple fact is, Yvette has the experience to win, and can hold together an increasingly fractures parliamentary party. With 500 rebellions to his name, we’re just not persuaded Jeremy could do that. Though Corbyn’s supporters talk a lot about winning over Greens, UKIP supporters and the young, a recent study by the Fabian Society suggested that even with the sort of turnout the SNP managed to get, in every five people we need to swing to Labour, four of them would have to be former Tory voters – and unfortunately, I don’t see them suddenly all “seeing the light” and switching from hardcore Toryism to democratic socialism.

Obviously, another poll has indicated he’s the favourite from across different parties, but even if this is true, a Corbyn leadership could nevertheless put Labour in a very precarious position, and as highlighted in previous articles, he’d receive a roasting from the press. An Yvette leadership – though maybe not as exciting, would not.

When it comes down to it, a Labour government of any shade champions the rights of working people and heals the wounds from Tory vandalism of the nation. Even Blair’s government made many great steps forward – the minimum wage, Sure Start, which we mentioned earlier, shrinking down NHS waiting lists – yes, there were mistakes of ridiculous proportions (PFIs, the Iraq War) and omissions of policies most of us here would support (rail renationalisation, a living wage), but we’d rather be debating with a Labour government than watching the majority suffer under a Tory one. Purity, in this case, has to be put below pragmatism.

Yvette may be a centrist, which isn’t to the tastes of many of us, but ultimately Britain desperately needs a progressive government. This isn’t something that can be delivered by Corbyn, though he is a highly respectable, compassionate and principled man, or indeed Andy Burnham, who’s flip flopped so many times none of us have confidence in his sincerity when it comes to his left leaning policies. That’s why The Great and the Good are supporting Yvette Cooper’s bid to be Labour leader.

Leader – Second Choice – Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is Old Labour on life support, and that’s I think why we love him. Old Labour, of course, didn’t really exist before the Blair years, and Blair’s creation of the subtly pejorative counterpoint, and now all that is left of this centrist’s bogeyman is a few backbenchers – Corbyn, Abbott et al, God love ’em. They are painted by many in the press and useless, incompetent and living in a parallel temporal stasis where Britain is still unionized and flannel trousers are still acceptable. The question posed by the Tory ‘infiltrators’ and other mocking onlookers is not could they run the party, but – wouldn’t it be fun to watch them try? The chaos would be hilarious, wouldn’t it?

Well, actually, no – and that’s the crux of the argument. Given that the other three candidates’ argument has essentially been: “well, he’s morally right but a shambles,” their entire case hinges on a combination of Corbyn being a bit of a nutter, poor leadership material and a turn-off for the voting public, and thus, the choice for socialists has been cleverly framed as one between heart and head – impassioned opposition or flaccid government. But polls have shown that Corbyn is actually the favourite across supporters of all parties – which could suggest he might actually be an electorally attractive leader.

The truth is, he could probably just about run the party – and the other candidates have failed to outline in policy terms why that would be such a bad thing. The question is then – why have we, the Great and the Good, not put him first? Simple – his past. Whether or not you believe his past associations with dictators and holocaust deniers reflect on his character in any way, the fact is the press will – and ergo, after a 5 year period of pure vitriol being directed at Jeremy through a turbocharged powerhouse, so will the public. It’s a sad and ironic truth, but truly only careerists make good party leaders in the modern age – they alone have been concerned since they started in politics in making sure the media have no ammunition to use in case of future fame.

Jeremy is a nice man – I’ve met him. He’s a sensible man too, and his policies – which range from renationalising the railways to people’s quantitive easing – are desperately needed. Despite the above misgivings, therefore, he has been given our collective second preference. Only vote for him, however, having fully considered the shitstorm that could follow his election.

We’ve also chosen a first choice for deputy – Angela Eagle – and Seb has already written up an article on the subject


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