Peter Hoskin

The Labour leadership contest gets interesting

The Labour leadership contest gets interesting
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Tales of the expected and the unexpected this morning, as two more names enter the Labour leadership fray. The first is the expected one: Andy Burnham, who announces his bid in an article for the Mirror. And the unexpected one is ... Diane Abbott, who revealed her intentions on the Today programme earlier. That thud you heard afterwards was the sound of a thousand jaws hitting the ground in Westminster.

Both will, I suspect, do much to improve the contest as a spectator sport. Abbott will have no qualms about attacking the record of the Blair and Brown years. And neither, it seems, will Andy Burnham. In his Mirror article he goes further than the other candidates in criticising Gordon Brown's decision to scrap the 10p tax band:

"Labour won’t be heard again until we show that we understand this sense of unfairness.

It was symbolised by the removal of the 10p tax band.

It told low-paid people and pensioners, many women, that we didn’t care or understand what people’s lives were like – a terrible place for Labour to be."

In a strange way, I also feel that neither candidate should be underestimated.  It's unclear, yet, how much Labour would like to break from the Blair and Brown years.  And the growing call for TV debates between the candidates adds an element of unpredictability into the mix.  Either way, this contest is certainly more engaging than it was yesterday morning.