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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stunted ambition

This morning's Observer leader is absolutely damning about Labour's Leadership and Deputy Leadership battles:

Paucity of debate means also that the deputy leadership election is shaping up to be a drab parade of stunted ambition, a conference sideshow of apparatchik introspection with nothing to add to the conversation about what direction the country, rather than just the Labour party, should take.

By contrast a proper battle for the leadership would put some wind into the sails of a becalmed government.

It would give the Chancellor the opportunity to refute his critics, demonstrating that he can respond nimbly to the quick-fire battle of an election campaign and be graceful in victory.

If he is not given the chance to show those qualities, voters will be entitled to assume the worst: that their new Prime Minister is a bully and that, after 10 years in power, the Labour party cannot muster from its ranks more than one heavyweight player with the guts and imagination required to even want to lead the country.

When Harold Wilson resigned there was a contest for the Labour leadership that involved politicians of substance from all wings of the party. The final run-off between Michael Foot and Jim Callaghan was enthralling and created the impression of real debate within the party. The present contest leads one to believe that New Labour is afraid of its own shadow.
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