Let’s be clear. Labour has an immense task ahead of it if it wants to win in 2020 and to that it must accept some realities.
Labour has lost Scotland
There is no way the Labour party will win back Scotland in 2020. With concentrated campaigning and targeting key seats it will likely make some gains, but with the massive swings we saw in the 2015 general election towards the SNP that sort of shift will unlikely reverse itself any time soon.
Labour should not go chasing after a leader that could make a dent in Scotland as that will likely make little difference. The Labour party needs a leader who can win over key marginals in England, someone who can appeal to swing voters who voted for David Cameron’s party this time around.
Labour do have a problem with this issue. Ed Miliband fumbled at the last election, leaving it until the very last minute to include a Budget Stability Lock (or whatever fancy terminology they came up with for it) to be included in their general election manifesto. With a month to go it was all very last minute. They looked like they were trying but they failed to be serious.
Labour fought the election on their strengths: the NHS. But even with that they lost, showing that they need to fight the Conservatives on economic competence. Liz Kendall has made it clear from the get-go that economic competence will be clear to any election campaign she runs. In that regard the Conservatives should be fearful.
Blairism without the taint of war and the baggage
Liz Kendall’s lack of experience in cabinet is an issue of course. But she has had experience in the outside world. Yes, on her page she does say she has worked for two think-tanks, but she has also been director of the Ambulance Service Network. And her shadow cabinet could be made up of more experienced members to balance her lack of experience.
But lack of experience means freshness and no baggage. Firstly, the two other main candidates Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper served in the last Labour government and are immediately associated with that government. Rightly or wrongly the party should be looking to the future.
And let's not forget before the wars and the economic crash (regardless of whether or not Labour was responsible for that) Tony Blair was very popular. Blairism was popular. Kendall could convey a 1997 style message of hope without the baggage of the last Labour government.
Jeremy Corbyn would likely mobilise the base and win over some Green and SNP voters looking for a more left wing alternative, but Corbyn’s appeal to voters in marginals is...marginal. Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, if either of them win then the party has a chance in 2020, but on balance Liz Kendall could be Labour’s best shot at winning.
And whilst some would say Labour should focus on being Labour and that its not all about winning surely they do not want to be out of office for a fifteen year period.
Burnham and Cooper would have a shot, but I think Kendall has an edge in 2020. And if she or whoever gets elected in a couple of months does poorly down the line, it would not be surprising if he/she was removed quickly before another Miliband meltdown at the ballot box.