James Forsyth

Labour’s coming man?

Labour's coming man?
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The Labour leadership drama now looks like it will take place in opposition not government. This will have an effect on the kind of leader Labour elects. If one of the coups against Brown had been successful, Labour would have almost certainly selected someone who could be presented as a credible Prime Minister from day one: a David Miliband, an Alan Johnson or - if they had gone for the caretaker option - Jack Straw. But in opposition, the Labour's electorate is likely to feel that it can pick someone who will grow into being a credible PM in opposition.

At the moment, there are two people who everyone assumes is running and are making the necessary preparations: Ed Balls and David Miliband. But I hear that another candidate is almost certain to enter the race, the backbencher Jon Cruddas. As I write in my column this week, 'Friends are adamant that Cruddas will run for leader if Labour loses the next election.'

Cruddas is one of the most interesting figures in British politics and his entry into the contest would change its dynamics in several respects. First of all, Cruddas would prevent Balls from presenting himself as the candidate of the left. Cruddas with his strong union links would also be able to count on substantial support in that section of the electoral college: again frustrating Balls, who in a straight fight with Miliband would hope to run up the score in that section of the contest.

But Cruddas would be a strong candidate in his own right. As someone who can't be accused of plotting against a leader in the way that Balls and Miliband can, he could stand as the candidate who would allow the party to move on from the factional fighting of the past few years. He also can't be pigeon-holed as too far left to win, he is far more happy talking about immigration, faith, the family and the like than most Labour politicians.