Unless something entirely undetected is happening in the Labour membership, Liz Kendall is not going to be elected party leader in the next few weeks. Today in an interview with the World at One, she said she was ‘definitely’ the underdog in the contest and that though ’I know I’ve got a long way to go’, she would be making the case ‘right towards the end’. Now her aim, it seems, is to advance her arguments about the future of Labour, rather than hoping that she might win.
Those arguments might be characterised as Blairism, but when Kendall was asked if she was the ‘heir to Blair’, she said:
‘I don’t think so, actually, I’ve always looked at the history of the Labour party and how we’ve won our great election victories in 1945, 1964, and 1997 and what struck me about all of those was that our values always remained the same but we really applied them to the world as it is, and to the future, not the world as we wish it would be.’
She said Labour was ‘too cavalier’ about the impact of globalisation, leaving too many parts of the country behind, relied too heavily on financial services, and that she was much more interested in putting ‘power into the hands of people who need it most’ and ‘getting power out of Whitehall’.
The question for Kendall and the colleagues supporting her is how to advance their arguments without being tagged with the toxic ‘Blairite’ description. She clearly has more to say than just regurgitating what Tony Blair believed, but is struggling to persuade members of this. And the Blairites may find after this leadership election that they struggle to persuade parliamentary colleagues even more than they did under Ed Miliband.