The new Labour leader may only last “two or three” years because the party would drop anyone they believed was unable to win the election, according to Damian McBride. The former Labour spin doctor said the party had picked “two leaders in a row who couldn’t win an election” and would not stick with another failing leader.
Mr McBride was speaking last night in a debate about the changing political landscape following the general election. He said any new Labour leader would have to appeal to both working class voters and the more metropolitan supporters of the party.
He claimed the only serious contender who could have appealed to both groups was Dan Jarvis, but he has ruled himself out for family reasons. The former Army officer lost his first wife to cancer in 2010 and said his children were not yet ready for him to take on such a demanding job.
Jarvis told Sky News: “My eldest kids had a very tough time when they lost their mum and I don’t want them to lose their dad. I need some space for them, my wife and our youngest child right now, and I wouldn’t have it as Leader of the Opposition.”
McBride claimed anyone other than Jarvis would be a gamble, but that the party would not tolerate yet more failure. Both Labour’s previous leaders lost elections, Gordon Brown in 2010 and Ed Miliband in 2015. In the case of Miliband the result was the worst performance since 1987.
Mr McBride also told the Parliament Street think tank that front-runner Chuka Umunna lacked the broad appeal across the country and would end up as a candidate for Mayor of London instead of leadeer. He also claimed the Shadow Business Secretary was unpopular in the Labour Party and would not secure as much support as the pundits have suggested.
The party is considering three approaches for staging the contest to succeed Mr Miliband – a short campaign with the result decided on 31st July, a longer campaign with the new leader chosen one or two weeks before the party conference, or using the gathering in September as a final hustings – as called for by Mr Ashworth – with a ballot after that.