“I had a few smokes when I was at college, but that’s never been my favourite form of relaxation.” - Liz Kendall
Trying to Replicate
It has been suggested (just now, by us) that Liz Kendall is actually a robot created by Alastair Campbell, programmed with the sole intention of repeating everything 'His Tonyness' said whilst in power. Indeed, in an open letter to Labour supporters, apparently written by Kendall at the time of her infamous ‘entranced at laptop’ photo (featured below), the Labour candidate explained that, “I wasn’t born into the Labour party, I chose it. Just like we’re going to have to persuade millions of Britons to do in the next election.” The opening sentence of this phrase was first uttered by Blair Mark I at a Clause IV Special Conference in 1995, when the Labour leader said: “I wasn't born into this party. I chose it.” We doubt this is an uncanny coincidence.
On the Campaign
High Point - Kendall managed to win early support for her pragmatic vision, mainly due to an impressive interview with Andrew Neil just days after the election.
Low Point - An early poll of the leadership vote, conducted by YouGov and published by The Times on 21st July, placed Kendall fourth with just 11% of the vote (32% behind Jeremy Corbyn). Further polls since that date have confirmed Kendall’s status as the rank outsider.
A Video to be Proud of
Who’s Backing Her?
Unsurprisingly, Kendall has received a string of endorsements from Blair’s inner-sanctum. Her supporters include former Chancellor Alistair Darling, and Ed’s wounded brother David Miliband. The Leicester MP has also received the open support of Chuka Umunna, who reversed his decision to run for the Labour leadership during the initial stages of the campaign. Never an outlet to withhold its opinion, The Sun has publically backed Kendall for the Labour leadership. This endorsement perhaps indicates why Kendall has received a hostile reaction from many grassroots supporters.
1945 Landslide All Over Again?
Rather than viewing 1945 as the standard-bearer, Kendall would most probably point to Labour’s election victories in 1997 and 2001 as exemplars for the future. Yet, unfortunately for Kendall, she lacks two potent elements of the Blairite formula. Firstly, she lacks the personal charisma of Blair – a stick used liberally by New Labour to prod ill-equipped and often lifeless Tory leaders. A recent poll conducted by Survation found that Kendall is perceived to be the least charismatic and weakest of the Labour leadership candidates in the eyes of the public (trailing third-placed Yvette Cooper by a 20-point margin in terms of 'strength'). Secondly, Kendall does not actually present a radically ‘new’ vision for Labour or the country. Despite arguing forcefully during the afforementioned Daily Politics interview that “We are not going to be able to fight the battles of the future if we are stuck with the labels of the past,” Kendall has often plumped for the security of timeworn taglines. She has failed to develop a new centre-ground rhetoric appropriate for a post-Blair, post-Crash, anti-establishment era of politics.