Labour leadership election: which candidates have what it takes to head the party

Ed Miliband

He likes to talk about football (he’s an Everton fan) to anyone who'll listen, before getting on to politics.

SPEAKING HUMAN

Ed Miliband was taunted by political opponents, often unfairly, for always speaking like a policy wonk. So can the new leader relate better to voters?

Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh

Can explain complex issues like the future of the Health Service or education without resorting to jargon. He’s a charmer.

Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford

Serious often but feisty, and impressive on TV; has often fielded by Labour on Question Time to take hard questions. A Harvard-educated economist and former journalist, she is good at the communications game, though some say she can be wooden.

Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West

Good at soundbites and personable, if sometimes over-intense. Cuts through jargon well. Prepared to be blunt. Said of the use private sector in the NHS that “what matters is what works” with a Blairite zeal that endeared her to that wing of the party.

Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield

Speaks well, with good one-liners. “We’ve got to have a much bolder vision for our future, much bigger ambitions for people in this country.” Good company and humour.

Tristram Hunt, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central

Strong in front of a camera. A TV historian who can talk a good game, although sometimes seen as being too relaxed he talked good human on Question Time last when he was outed for being more than a bit interested in the leadership. Does he sound too posh?

JOHN LEWIS APPEAL?

Tristram Hunt launched the concept of a John Lewis voter, saying Labour would only win if it championed aspirational middle class voters who shop there, and at Waitrose.

Andy Burnham

A Liverpool boy, a lad at heart, but he was a member of Tony Blair’s and Gordon Brown’s governments. He doesn’t like the mansion tax, and says the public sees it aspart of a “politics of envy” which no one likes. Did his assault on NHS privatisation position him too close to Old Labour for middle-class southern voters’ taste?

Yvette Cooper

Cooper will have no problem with appealing to middle-class aspirational voters, although in tandem with addressing working-class concerns like those of her constituents.

Liz Kendall

Espouses the causes of John Lewis voters in spades. Talks lots about aspiration and believes Labour failed to identify sufficiently with them under Ed Miliband’s leadership. Very New Labour.

Mary Creagh

Aspiration is a favourite word, would want to fold John Lewis shoppers into her Labour big tent. Once accused her fellow Labour MPs of shunning her because she spoke with a middle-class, southern accent.

Tristram Hunt

Will be known, if not careful, as the John Lewis candidate. Privately educated and Oxbridge, he is passionate, though, about regeneration of urban communities and has done an impressive job in selling his Stoke constituency as a place to invest.

FRIENDS IN THE NORTH?

Labour failed to win key marginals in the north and lost working-class voters to Ukip in droves. Miliband was seen as too southern so how does the party reconnect in northern heartlands?

Andy Burnham

Retains a strong Liverpool accent and is a local hero in the city of his birth, having campaigned relentlessly for the families of victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Cambridge educated but very much clings on to his northern roots.

Yvette Cooper

Born in Scotland, she has been the MP for Pontefract and Castleford since 1997 (since 2010 it has been Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford). Strong on the need for Labour to rebuild trust with working-class voters to see off Ukip.

Liz Kendall

Was born in Watford, middle England that Blair won over in 1997, and was brought up in the nearby Tory commuter belt town of Abbots Langley. Now represents the Midlands constituency of Leicester West. Doesn’t have many obvious northern credentials, though says she wanted to go to Manchester University. She ended up at Queens College, Cambridge.

Mary Creagh

Creagh is popular in her Yorkshire constituency and supports devolution to the regions and a rebalancing of the economy towards the north.

Tristram Hunt

His home has been the south, and his education was in the south. His Stoke constituency has given him an interest in the the challenges facing working-class communities and he has spoken of the need to win back the north, as well as Scotland, as central to Labour’s future success.

TRUSTED WITH MONEY?

Labour was not regarded as credible enough on the economy and was seen by voters as having spend too much in government

Andy Burnham

He says Labour should have worked to get the deficit down earlier when in government (effectively admitting it overspent), but he is adamant that the Tories have spun a lie that Labour was profligate. He says Cameron and Osborne vowed to at least match Labour’s spending when in opposition and says he will remind them of that at every opportunity.

Yvette Cooper

Cooper has not said that Labour overspent in government. Being married to Ed Balls, the former shadow chancellor, makes doing so extra difficult. But she defends what the party did with its money and accepts that fiscal discipline will key to Labour’s future credibility.

Liz Kendall

She has said Labour spent too much in government, probably more clearly than any other candidate. She says the party has to “wrap our arms around business”. “There are many good businesses that share our agenda, but they did not feel they could be part of what we were saying, because too much of the time they heard us attacking business, and giving the impression that profit is wrong,” she said.

Mary Creagh

At a Progress meeting on Saturday she refused to say that Labour overspent in government and gave a robust defence of its record in improving public services through investment. “People have forgotten the economic credibility of the last Labour government.”

Tristram Hunt

At the the Progress meeting Hunt said Labour had overspent in government . “There was huge amounts of fixing the roof when the sun was shining but what we didn’t do was leave enough economic headroom to cope with the financial crash and global recession.”

CHARISMA QUOTIENT

Labour needs its new leader to excite the public, to be dynamic, a good communicator and to have star quality

Andy Burnham

Knows how to perform, is smart, crisp and clear. No one can say he is not a good bloke but he has been around a bit for those who prefer a new face.

Yvette Cooper

Linked with the Blair-Brown years. Can also seem a bit stern at times, but a bid to become Labour’s first full-time female leader will give campaign extra interest.

Liz Kendall

Has performed OK on the media so far but she’s fairly untried and the charisma might start to show as she gains confidence and experience on the big stage.

Mary Creagh

Personable and bold and has the benefit of a position of being virtually unknown on the national stage. The star qualities, if she has them, may start to emerge with more exposure.

Tristram Hunt

Telegenic and fluent, Hunt has been a media hit and is not afraid of big stage. The question is not whether he looks and sounds good. He does. It is whether Labour can have a leader called Tristram.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Toby Helm, for The Observer on Sunday 17th May 2015 00.04 Europe/London

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