David Blackburn

The waltz never got going

The waltz never got going
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I was expecting drama when the Labour leadership circus called at Newsnight yesterday. Alas, the show whimpered and wheezed to a halt. A contest to determine the party’s future continues to gaze into the past. Assessing failure is essential to renewal, but the candidates are yet to offer anything substantively new.


Ed Balls and David Miliband shared one telling exchange. Balls has presented himself as the traditional candidate, and he would have you believe he speaks the language of Mrs Duffy. Gordon Brown’s hideous solecism in Rochdale revealed that he and his government were out of touch on issues such as housing and immigration. David Miliband is the centrist candidate and he dissociates himself from Balls and Duffy-speak. He argued that Balls’ analysis was too simplistic. At length, he revisited Labour’s recent history and concluded that the party was out of touch on…immigration and housing.

Labour’s defeat cannot be ascribed to just two failings, but immigration and housing drove some of its core vote to apathy. On the evidence of last night, neither (in fact none of the candidates) has a credible plan to re-engage on those issues. There is, of course, some way to go.