The Labour leadership contest will heat up in the next few days. Tomorrow, the Fabian Society will host a hustings with all of the declared candidates. Liz Kendall is set for a grilling on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. On Monday, all of the candidates will address the Parliamentary Labour Party before heading to Dublin for the GMB union’s annual conference. And at noon on Tuesday, the nomination process officially begins.
Each of the candidates has something to prove over the next few days. Andy Burnham needs to demonstrate whether he is standing as a reformed Blairite or a Miliband-esque defender of public services. Yvette Cooper needs to prove she has something to stay. Jeremy Corbyn and Mary Creagh need to indicate whether they have enough support to make it on the ballot paper. But Liz Kendall has the highest expectations to fulfil.
So far, she is the most untested of the main three candidates. Her ability to answer a question in a straightforward manner has won her praise from the media, as has her honest points about the need to learn from the Tories’ success. But in terms of her ability to perform, Kendall remains a largely unknown quantity. For one thing, she has never faced a senior minister at the dispatch box. Oddly, she was not given the opportunity to do this by Harriet Harman in the post-Miliband reshuffle — an indication perhaps of where her support will go.
The best chance Kendall has is to prove that she can be the ‘change everything’ candidate. If she’s to have any hope of becoming the next Labour leader, it is by appealing to those who believe everything the party stands for should be up for debate, if they have any hope of winning in 2020. Although Kendall needs the support of three more MPs to make it onto the ballot paper, her campaign are very confident that the support is there. But after the candidates are announced, the real campaigning begins. Over the next few days, Kendall is likely to begin laying the ground work to show she can be the turn the page candidate, for a turn the page election.