1 Sep 2010

Labour leadership candidates ‘fired up’

TV hustings on Channel 4 News just now. The first one not conducted by the strict rules that governed all the other ones. So you get a lot of inter-change.

Diane Abbott, says Andy Burnham, was “equally disloyal” to Tony and Gordon. “Loyalty” is a New Labour word says Diane Abbott. “Few would say I am the continuity candidate with Gordon,” says David Miliband, responding to goading by Diane Abbott who accuses him of being Blair’s candidate.

Ed Balls went for Tony Blair (slightly over-looking Gordon Brown’s private calls not to retaliate), saying he was wrong on the Euro. He said Tony Blair in private called for the abolition of Inheritance Tax. Not sure that was in the memoirs.

Ed Miliband says it’s “ancient history” to ask why the candidates are talking about Blair/Brown and not the big issues. He had a couple of digs at his brother David over graduate tax and the last Labour Budget. Ed said he wanted a graduate tax and more tax than Alastair Darling levied.

Jon Snow asked David Miliband if there was anyone in the room he wouldn’t have in his Cabinet. He said “no,” very firmly. Could that mean there’s a job for Jon?

David Miliband got a bit isolated on how long the Labour Party would keep a 50p top rate. He said keep it for this Parliament but then look at it again. Ed Balls, Ed Miliband and Diane Abbott said keep it forever and Ed Balls said lower the starting rate.

All came out against means testing child benefit or the winter fuel allowance. I wonder if they would commit to reinstate these as universal benefits if the Coalition decides to means test them for top earners in this Parliament.

Given how this campaign has been described, dry uninspired and low-key, the candidates came across in this format as fairly young and fired up.

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