Although the Milifandom wasn’t enough to lead Ed Miliband to victory at the polls, the cult movement did at least bring the former Labour leader’s lagging campaign some momentum in the final weeks of the election campaign. So perhaps it’s little surprise that the new Labour leadership hopefuls have been courting Milifandom founder Abby Tomlinson in a bid to win her endorsement ahead of the vote.
After meeting with each contender, Tomlinson has announced that she is backing Andy Burnham for leader. She says that she will give her second preference to Jeremy Corbyn — who has won the most union endorsements as well as CLP endorsements. Writing a comment piece in the Guardian, she writes that Burnham is the only candidate to inspire her since her first love Ed Miliband:
‘It was at the hustings I attended in Warrington that I realised something. Before that Saturday, none of the candidates had really inspired me. As someone who was prompted to join the party after being inspired, I didn’t feel any of them could do what Miliband had done and give me that fundamental drive that things needed to change. However, at those hustings, the only candidate who really spurred on that drive was Burnham.’
What’s more, she says Burnham is the only leader who would listen to Jeremy Corbyn if they were elected:
‘One of the things that Corbyn said to me was: “I never wanted a leadership debate … I wanted a policy debate.” My interpretation of this was that he would rather exert influence over party policy than actually lead the party. He needs to have a big voice in the party and its policy for the sake of those he has engaged with. I don’t think he would be given that voice under Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall.’
Happily for Tomlinson, in the more likely case that Corbyn wins, Burnham’s brown-nosing may at least land him a job in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.