I took an afternoon out today to go to an event in Enfield with Liz Kendall and the Enfield MP Joan Ryan. It was an interesting and instructive afternoon. There’s no point in denying that I was entirely certain about my vote in the leadership election already, but I was encouraged by Liz’s (a) answers and (b) attitude.
A few specific things:
- No time for student union-style boycotts. (I was going to ask a question about Labour losing seats like Hendon, with its large Jewish vote, but didn’t need to.)
- One question labelled her the “pro-austerity” candidate. She took a while to build up to it, but it was the best moment in the event. “I am the anti-austerity candidate.” Quite right too.
- She repeatedly talked about aiming to be the prime minister. None of this “strong opposition” nonsense. She wants to form a Labour government. 94 target seats, more than two thirds of them with 3,000+ majorities: it’s a tough ask but there’s no point giving up.
The big thing, though, needs a bit of Ed Miliband to explain. I remember watching his resignation speech and shouting in anger at the television.
He said “I am so sorry…” Quite right too, I thought. He continued, “…for all of those colleagues who lost their seats.” Huh?
Miliband should have been sorry for all those people throughout the country who needed a Labour government and who had been let down because he and the party had failed to deliver it.
Kendall gets attacked as being “Tory-lite”. People who say that can’t have met her, or seen her, or heard her. Every answer to every question was entirely based around beating the Tories and getting a Labour government to do all the things that a Labour government would do that the Tories wouldn’t. There could not have been a more Labour attitude.
Was she perfect? No. There were imperfections. She’ll get better, of course. I’ll be voting for her, and I feel even better about that this evening than I did this morning.