James Forsyth

The Labour leadership contest, all over bar the voting

The Labour leadership contest, all over bar the voting
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The Labour leadership hustings are over, tonight’s one on Question Time was the last one. As has been the case at so many previous hustings, Ed Balls was the most intellectually forceful of the contenders. Whatever you think of his arguments on the economy (and I disagree with them), he puts them across with a clarity and directness that none of the other candidates can match. It was revealing how when Ed Balls took issue with Andy Burnham’s accurate statement that there would have been ‘significant job loses’ under Labour, the others all backed away.

In the contest between the two front runners, David Miliband was the more statesman-like refusing to get drawn into supporting strikes come what may and talking thoughtfully about foreign affairs while Ed Miliband seemed to connect with the audience better.  But perhaps most telling was how Ed looked full of beans while David appeared tired. Ed’s high spirits suggests that he really is convinced that he has the big mo going into the campaign’s final days.

Andy Burnham has not had a good leadership race. But he deserves huge credit for his willingness to stand up for the Iraq war, to point out to an electorate that is full of anti-war certainty just what Saddam did to his own people.

The final question was a drawn from Big Brother, if the candidates could evict one of their opponents who would it be? Predictably, all of them dodged the question. But right at the end, Ed Balls turned to David Dimbleby and said, ‘I think we’ll evict you David.’