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Labour’s left-leaning Liverpudlian risks replaying 2015 election

| 01.06.2015

As Andrew Neil pointed out in his interview with Labour deputy leadership candidate Tom Watson on the BBC’s ‘Sunday Politics’, the reds could end up with two union-backed males from north of the Watford Gap at the head of affairs by September’s end.

Considering ‘Blairite’ candidate David Miliband pulled in more than 49 per cent of the vote in the 2010 leadership election, that’s clearly not where the Labour party wants to be.

Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham is still favourite at 5/6 to take over from acting leader Harriet Harman, but after emerging as front-runner since Chuka Umunna’s withdrawal three weeks ago, the Liverpudlian hasn’t exactly streaked ahead.

A recent tweet from unofficial campaigning site @AB4LabLeader says it all:

Calling the NHS ‘privatised’ stretches the truth to breaking point, seeing as healthcare is still free at the point of use, while former leader Ed Miliband’s offer to cut tuition fees by a third in the last General Election was widely derided for being arbitrary.

As far as the link between Labour and the trade unions, ‘protection’ is probably the last thing it needs, as Burnham has clearly realised by pledging not to take any funds from Len McCluskey and co during the campaign, a piecemeal measure that won’t sustain if he wins.

The prospect of Burnham and Watson as Labour’s leadership team must be cheering the Conservatives no end as they negotiate a tricky pathway to an in/out EU referendum, practically unopposed by Her Majesty’s Opposition.

However, just because this partnership would be electoral suicide doesn’t mean both Burnham and Watson won’t win; the former is the first of the leadership contenders to secure the 35 MP nominations needed to stand, while the latter is 6/4 favourite for deputy in a seven-runner field.

That being said, after losing comprehensively last month, the penny will surely drop among Labour supporters between now and September’s vote; Burnham is saying little that wasn’t uttered by Miliband prior to May’s poll, except with regard to ‘the metropolitan elites’ allegedly taking over the party.

Of the other three contenders, each of whom are women, perceived Blairite Liz Kendall is still next best in the market at 7/4, although compromise candidate Yvette Cooper clawed back some ground over the weekend, and is now 4/1 from 5/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Iain Houten

Iain has been contributing pieces to various websites on an array of subjects, including sports, politics and art, for over four years. Despite blue being his favourite colour, the teams he supports all wear red.