In it to win it: Could these potential leaders save the Labour Party?

After “Red-Ed”, what direction will Labour take next?

The Labour Party is in poor shape. The party took a kicking at the election under Ed Miliband’s leadership and it now requires a major rebuild.

But who will be next knight to lead the party into battle?

“Red Ed”, was accused of being too left-wing. So will the party swerve to the right in a bid to win power, or can a more ideological leader win out?

Much depends on how the party deals with the Unions. Miliband was brought to power by unions supportive of his left-wing stance.

Today, the leader of the influential Unite Union, Len McCluskey, said that the union may rethink its relationship with Labour if the party fails to elect the “correct leader”.

There are four candidates currently in the race. Of the four, all of them supported the 2005 invasion of Iraq, and none of them support re-nationalising the railways.

Indeed, they have already been criticised as all coming from the same wing of the party, and of lacking vision.

But can they save Labour? We take a look at the contenders.

Mary Creagh

Mary Creagh

MP for Wakefield since 2005, Mary Creagh is perhaps the least known candidate for leadership. Last week she said the Labour party needed to “win back people’s trust in the economy.”

Announcing her decision to stand, Creagh said: “I’m standing because I think the party needs a fresh voice that can reach out to middle England, the suburbs that we lost, but also to our industrial heartlands, which have seen the changes of globalisation, the consequences of immigration, and feel that the Labour party has turned their back on them.”

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham is the current frontrunner in the race. He has been the MP for Leigh since 2001, and under Ed Miliband’s reign was shadow health secretary. He is seen as a more left-leaning candidate than others, but has already spoken out against the unions urging a further move left, and against Peter Mandelson, who has called for a return to New Labour.

Burnham insists he is “the change” candidate for the party, saying the UK needs the EU, but must also tackle immigration.

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper

An MP since 1997, Cooper, a former journalist and Harvard-educated economist, is seen as a particularly serious candidate. Announcing her leadership bid in the Mirror, Cooper said: “Labour lost because we didn’t convince enough people in all parts of the country that we had the answers to match up with their ambitions.

“Our promise of hope wasn’t strong enough to drown out the Tory and UKIP voices of fear.”

Liz Kendall

Liz Kendall

The Leicester West MP is a staunch moderniser and has said that unless the party changes, it may be “unable to form a majority government ever again.”

She supports an in/out EU referendum, is pro-business, and has said that Labour should not support a top rate of tax of 50p indefinitely. Instead, the party should focus on rebalancing public finances.

“We have got to face up to the catastrophic scale of the defeat and the scale of the response we need to win again, and that is what this leadership contest has to be about,” she said to the Guardian.

The curious case of Chuka Umunna

Chuka Umunna

Chukka Umunna, the former shadow business secretary, announced his intention to run for leader via a grainy film shot in Swindon. Three days later he realised he had made a mistake and withdrew from the contest saying he was shocked at the level of press scrutiny directed at his and his girlfriend’s family.

Tristram Hunt?

Tristram Hunt

The MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central is yet to announce a leadership bid, though he’s been widly tipped as a potential candidate. In a recent speech, he railed against the party’s inability to shake-off the blame for the financial crisis, and said the “leadership election period must look ahead to the big policy challenges of the future, not as we did in 2010 by having a debate about the mistakes of the past.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Only Kendall or Creagh are unassociated with the disaster of the last Labour government, and it's obvious that lessons have n't been learnt. Burnham refused to acknowledge problem hospitals, and one of the reasons Labour did so badly is that most people don't want a party controlled by left-wing unions. Yvette Cooper also in denial, and wife of disastrous chancellor Ed Balls. Umunna their only hope and if he's not standing, Labour in the dog-house for a very long time. Good!

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