James Forsyth

The missing candidates in the Labour leadership contest

The missing candidates in the Labour leadership contest
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This Labour leadership contest is almost as notable for who isn’t standing as for who is. First, there is the former paratrooper turned MP Dan Jarvis who declined to stand despite many on the Labour side’s belief that he is the answer to the party’s problems. Then, there is Chuka Umunna who initially did enter the race but then pulled out almost immediately, depriving the contest of the one current Labour politician with undoubted star power.

But, perhaps, even more telling by their absence are those Labour figures who aren’t even in parliament now. The most discussed of these is David Miliband, who quit the Commons after losing to his brother in 2010. But the more damaging absence for Labour, I argue in the magazine this week, is that of a whole chunk of talent who Gordon Brown effectively forced out of politics for threatening his leadership ambitions.

Imagine how much stronger this Labour leadership field would look if it also included James Purnell, Alan Milburn and John Reid. It is Brown’s determination to knock out any rival that means Labour is now having to being forced to pick between candidates with too much baggage or one with too little experience.