Liz Kendall spent an hour on Facebook this evening answering questions from Labour supporters. Those sitting on a social network on a Tuesday evening are clearly not entirely representative of the party’s membership, but this Q&A suggests Kendall has a perception problem in some quarters. The sheer vitriol of the comments from those who claim to be Labour supporters shows that some folks really do not like Kendall.
Here is a selection some of the users had to about Kendall being a supposed closest Tory (these posts enviably had the most likes, far more than her responses):
Paul Whiteley: Hi Liz…..sorry but don’t you think with your right of centre policies & views that you might not be more at home on the government front bench than standing as Labour leader…..do you think the public will vote Labour with Tory policies when they can simply vote Tory for the same Tory policies ? Labour needs a distinct identity & not more centre right policies to try to obtain the votes of middle class middle England !!
Bassface Gurnatron Would rather vote Green than put my cross next to Liz Kendall. More tory than many tories.
Kendall responded to this comment: ‘If we tell the British public that a strong economy, backing great businesses and sound public finances are Tory values then the Tories will be in power forever’. Mr Gurnatorn said ‘with you at the helm it will utterly ensure it.’
Chris Scott Liz you don’t seem to be answering any of the numerous comments on here that question you as not just a leadership candidate but as a true Labour Party member. Answer that…
Dan Flintham Why are you in the labour party when you back tory policies?
Daniel Cook Hi Liz Kendall why are you a Thatcherite and running for the leadership of the Labour Party?
Jess Grant Liz, how do you sleep at night having backed draconian Tory cuts intended to hurt the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society?
Carole-anne Hibbert why are you still in the Labour Party? You are so obviously a Tory at heart. Please go away!!!
Jay Harper Liz, why does your party insist on being Tory-lite? This makes you even more unelectable than being the actual Labour party (remember them?).
Dan Walker You are disgrace to be associated with the colour RED. Have you tried Blue?
Although there were many sensible questions asked, the majority were about Kendall’s true affiliation — despite Liz having been a member of Labour for 30 years, working as a Labour SpAD, MP and shadow minister. If this mood is at all indicative of how the rest of the Labour party membership is feeling, the idea of a Jeremy Corbyn victory might not be so unrealistic after all.
The main question all of the Labour leadership campaigns are trying to figure out is how the party’s new members — both since 2010 and the 2015 election — are inclined to vote. Are these online comments just noise or do they represent a significant proportion of Labour members? Although the 50,000 new affiliated members Unite claims to have signed up are also a key factor, new members or those who have returned to the party are more likely to participate than those who have been paying their subs but not participating for many years.
The moderate campaigns are worried that a good chunk of these members came into the party purely because the Blair era was over. If these new members feel the level of hatred expressed on Facebook for a candidate who is clearly not a Tory, then maybe John McTernan is right and the Labour party has lost its senses.