9 Jun 2010

Labour contest: brotherly love or ‘narrowest gene pool’?

Political analyst Peter McHugh examines the contenders in a Labour leadership race described by Diane Abbott as containing “the narrowest gene pool in history”.

Labour leadership: Ed and David Miliband. (Getty)

If you can imagine how Mrs Zedong felt back in 1934 when her lad Mao set off on his long march then you will understand how Mrs Miliband must be feeling about her lads David and Ed.

Who would have thought it, apart from them obviously, that they would be just 24 hours away from taking each other on for one of the few vacant jobs if the next few years.

If William Hill (not a contender) is to be believed then the brothers, less Chuckle than Grimm and Grimmer, are a shoe-in to replace Gordon as the next leader of Labour.

Only one of them can have it but then does it make any difference which one. Bearing in mind the present popularity of the party probably not.

Labour, according to Diane Abbott, is about to select its leader from “the narrowest gene pool in history”.

Labour, according to Diane Abbott, is about to select its leader from “the narrowest gene pool in history”.

Diane, member of parliament for Hackney, is also in the contest. Diane has been an MP for 23 years and has a record of opposing Labour envied by many Tories. She believes Labour needs a new leader called Diane Abbott but the party have conspired against her by coming up with a ridiculous rule that requires her to get other MPs who know her to back her first.

There are 258 MPs and enough of them now support Diane for her to stand. But just how accurate is her criticism? Well let’s look at the runners and riders likely to contest for the leadership of the People’s Party.

David Miliband, Haverstock comp and Oxford

Ed Miliband, Haverstock Comp and Oxford

Andy Burnham, St Aelreds Tech and Cambridge

Ed Balls, Nottingham High School and Oxford.

    And of course Diane herself, if she can find another 21 mates by tomorrow morning. Diane Abbott, Harrow Grammar and Cambridge.

    So who are these men of the people who believe it’s their turn to save us from ourselves. Well, as Scotland Yard would say, they have all got form.

    David, the more spotted Miliband as opposed to his lesser spotted bro Ed, is a known bottler. He almost had a few goes when Gordon was in charge but pulled a Portillo instead. Despite his best efforts he has the backing of Alistair Campbell and Lord Mandelson, proving what goes around comes around.

    Brother Ed is the second favourite but not seen to have had his hands as deeply in the ordure as David. “Brotherly love will survive”, he says, whatever the outcome, although that does sound a little like a line from Kane and Abel the novel of that other well known parliamentarian Jeffrey Archer.

    Poster backdrop at Yorkshire and Humber Labour hustings. (Getty)

    Then of course there is Ed Balls, Gordon’s presence on earth, chief dissembler of the truth and as of Monday cheer leader of Labour ‘s new interest in immigration.

    “Ed Balls attacks Gordon”, screamed the unbelievable headline if only to prove that four weeks is now a very long time in politics. Ed’s main fear must be that Gordon arises from his slumbers and publicly backs him.

    At this stage you now have to stop and wonder what went wrong with the name Edward. Mr and Mrs Miliband and Mr and Mrs Balls went through all the usual rows to come up with that princely title in the late 1960s only to have it rejected as their boys grew up. Was it an Oxford thing of the 1980s or did they know what a wuss the real Prince would be. Will the Eds explain?

    Talking of which will Ed Balls explain why Wikipedia says he was a member of both Labour and Conservative clubs at Oxford?

    If Dave and Nick (Oxford and Cambridge) stopped running the country and ran away together would we notice if Dave and Ed (Oxford and Oxford) took over.

    Meanwhile let’s not forget Andy (Cambridge) or Andrew as his mother calls him. At the moment his biggest claim to fame is being the holder of the Alistair Darling memorial eyebrows award.

    Like the rest of the contenders, according to Diane Abbott, he has never had a proper job but like the rest, including Ms Abbott, weighs his constituency votes rather than counting them.

    So there we have it. We won’t know until 25 September who is going to take on the coalition twins at the dispatch box.

    Peter McHugh is the former director of programmes at GMTV.

    Meanwhile life goes on while the Oxbridge punters in their punts sort out between them who are going to be our leaders in the future.

    If only Mrs Zedong had known the rules and sent her Mao there then maybe her lad wouldn’t have had to wait until 1949 to get the top job.

    Peter McHugh is the former director of programmes at GMTV and was this year awarded the Royal Television Society Lifetime Achievement Award.