So after 40 hustings over 17 weeks, it’s nearly over.
I originally called back in May for as long as leadership contest as possible, especially after the last coronation and the election defeat
I’d probably say on balance it was still a good thing to have a four month debate to examine where we went wrong and where Labour goes next. But we’ve all been tested at times. Having watched most of the televised hustings, the same arguments and lines have been repeated ad infiniutm.
It’a a bit like sitting through your favourite film EVERY week and mouthing each line of dialogue.
However the big benefit of this contest is that the main candidates have actually learned how to campaign.
They’ve built teams from scratch, they’ve motivated volunteers and worked across the party and the country to win support from Facebook to face-to-face.
So we now have five senior politicians with very formidable cutting-edge campaign experience.
The challenge for them will be to unite behind a leader and turn their fire back on to the coalition.
It won’t be easy.
They’ve given up a third of a year to follow their dream, sacrificed their time with their families to traipse around the UK to attend house-meetings, CLPs and phone banks.
You can’t go through that, lose and then smile sweetly whilst platituding that the best man/woman run.
For most it’ll be very sore, raw and intially a bit hard to accept. It’ll be a campaign comedown.
But I predict this – losing won’t be that bad.
In fact, the runner-up will go on to become the darling of the party for years to come. And that’s a very powerful position to be in as the leader won’t be able to do a thing without explicitly bringing the loser and his supporters with him.
Because if there’s one thing the Labour party loves it’s the nearly guy. The fella who slogged his guts out, gave his all, only to fall short at the end.
Perhaps that’s why TB was viewed with suspicion. He was way too much of a winner for our liking!
So, yes, the new leader will have their day on September 25th. But the person who comes second will earn a title with much more affection and respect from the party.
That old chestnut of the best leader Labour NEVER had.
And the new leader had better hug him close – like a brother.