Two parties are holding leadership contests at present. It was supposed to be three but, after resigning, Nigel Farage was told not to be silly, so he un-resigned himself. By contrast, both Labour and the Lib Dems are replacing their leaders following disastrous results at the General Election.

I watched the Labour candidates in the televised debate on the BBC. While none of them dropped any particular clangers, left-leaning veteran Jeremy Corbyn appeared the most plausible. The difference between Corbyn and the others was that he didn’t look like he’d spent ages preparing ‘set piece’ answers. His approach was assured and consistent with a viewpoint he’s expressed for many years.

Labour favourite Andy Burnham is probably still in the lead for reasons of momentum – and because he represents a degree of continuity with the New Labour agenda. That agenda altered the kind of people who in Labour, and that’s an advantage to Burnham’s moderate, mainstream style. All the same, if you fancy an outside bet, put a few quid on Corbyn.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems are also locked their election for who should lead the party. They had a catastrophic performance at the polls, thanks to the inept, self-seeking and accident-prone Clegg. His legacy is a tiny party with just a rump of eight MPs, an 87% contraction from what he inherited from the previous leader. As such, nobody really seems to be paying attention to the Lib Dem leadership debates, because it’s not really going to make much difference to the country.

All the same, I went along to watch one a ‘hustings’ and was surprised to see around 800 people in attendance. Clearly, amongst those who feel closely associated with the Lib Dems, it is creating interest. In fairness, both candidates – Tim Farron MP and Norman Lamb MP – did well. In my view, Farron had the edge because he was more passionate and isn’t tainted by the unforgivable U-turn on student tuition fees (I long ago predicted that nobody who ‘broke’ the tuition fees pledge could be leader).

Whoever wins the Labour and Lib Dem top jobs, they’ll both have giant mountains to climb if they’re to form a future government. For Labour, Scotland remains a problem and it’s an arduous task to get back what they’ve lost. For the Lib Dems, they’re not even starting at Base Camp, but rather at the bottom of a dark valley. After the Lib Dem debate, pub chat confirmed I’m not the only one who finds it irksome that Calamity Clegg caused a political avalanche which effectively buried the party.

Advertisements