The nomination meeting for my CLP is taking place tonight at a location I can literally see from my office. It's at 7pm. It therefor makes no sense for me to go home for half an hour just to turn around and go back to where I started. Nonetheless that leaves me with an hour to kill and I thought I would pass it with a brief blog about why my own vote will be for Lisa Nandy*.
Firstly, it is because she got things right over Brexit. Labour should have voted for Mrs May's deal, particularly with the guarantees on employment rights and environmental protections she offered latterly. The failure to do so was always going to end in tears. There was never a majority in the last Commons for a second referendum nor would there ever have been. There was never a circumstance where a General Election before Brexit would have changed that. There was never a circumstance where Labour was going to win such an election.
Yet these three things were wilfully overlooked in Labour's pre December 12th strategy. The results were almost inevitable. A shift to the right among the Tories, a General Election at the moment of maximum disadvantage to my Party, a Tory landslide and....oh....a worse exit deal and the possibility, in time, of the hardest of Brexits to follow.
One person was at the heart of the devising of that strategy and that person was Keir Starmer. If the criticism of the Tories is that they have split the country to unite the Tory Party then what does that say for the Labour politicians who have facilitated that?
But I've also got a second reservation about Keir Starmer which is in no way his fault but nonetheless nothing he can do anything about.
The problem of Corbynism wasn't just its appalling politics and economics. It was it's appalling geography. The Leader, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary all held literally adjacent seats. The Shadow Chancellor was just up the road and all of the leader's inner circle had been players in specifically London politics all of their lives. In many cases as also had been their parents.
Keir Starmer, to the public, will demonstrate no change from that. And that's a big problem. The northern towns who have turned away from Labour, just like the Scottish ones who had done so earlier, have a resentment of London. When the SNP talk of "Westminster", we too easily dismiss this as invariably just code for "the English". Sometimes it undoubtedly is but there is a legitimate argument against the vast accumulation of wealth, power and opportunity in one small part of the country which realises that "Westminster" is not England and that Scots antipathy to Westminster is equally shared across many of the English regions. Oddly, the person who seems at least to currently get that is none other than Boris Johnson. Whether he is sincere about doing something about it, only time will tell. But he is certainly talking a good game.
So Labour needs a visible change. Regrettably, Starmer is not it. That as I say is not his fault but it is a fact.
But the final reason I believe we need to do better than Starmer is a more positive one. I think Labour could win the next General Election. I don't think he does. His strategy is clearly to stabilize the ship and start then start pumping out the sewage that Corbyn has brought on board. His commitment to an independent complaints process is, to be fair, a move of genius in this regard. But do I think he believes he can take us safely to port in 2024? I doubt it.
As I say, I disagree. The very volatility that has led to us losing so many seats could, with an exceptional leader, be played to our advantage in that regard. But it needs an exceptional leader.
I heard Lisa Nandy speak in Glasgow on Monday. She was exceptional. Speaking largely without notes, she answered questions with a mixture of self deprecating humour and yet total command of her material when she spoke, on matters across the whole policy spectrum. And she was also wise enough, when asked about matters regarding which she knew little, to confess just that.
But above all she was relaxed and confident and full of ideas.
And she didn't have the decline of towns as a momentary leadership campaign hobby horse. She could point to a track history of work in this area. Sometimes even cross Party. That is precisely where Labour needs to come back and no candidate has a better grasp of what needs said and then, in Government, done.
She probably won't thank me for the comparison but I kept thinking she reminded me of someone else I had heard recently. Afterwards I realised it was Tony Blair.
*Obviously alongside Ian Murray and Jackie Baillie.