Alistair Darling backs Liz Kendall to lead Labour

Alistair Darling

The former Labour chancellor, Alistair Darling, has backed Liz Kendall to take over from Ed Miliband.

Writing in the Guardian for ‘Comment Is Free’, Alistair Darling talked about Labour’s loss at the most recent general election and said that Labour can win if people are confident in their economic credibility.

He said that:

“We have no right to exist: that has to be earned. We must rediscover our self-confidence and self-belief. But most of all that sense of purpose that took us into power in 1945 and in 1997.”

Regarding the 1980s, in which Labour were out of power, he said:

“We left the field to Margaret Thatcher, and the Tories enjoyed power for 18 years.”

One could interpret this as a dig at Jeremy Corbyn and his 'potential' to lead the party into the wilderness, not to victory, particularly as Mr Corbyn is supposedly doing well.

Much of Darling's article talks about the past and Labour's direction for the future but it is not until the last paragraph in which he explicitly endorses Liz Kendall for leader. Of her he says that he thinks “she recognises the scale of the challenge we [Labour] face.” And that “She is a realist, but also understands that if we are not the party of change we could easily become a party of the past.”

Does Kendall have a chance?

Kendall, a supposed Blairite, was the first candidate to decare that she was standing in the leadership contest so at the beginning it might have been thought she had some advantage in terms of the momentum. But as the campaign has moved on her chances have shrunk. This is particularly noticeable in light of the Corbyn surge and the betting markets.

Previously, Kendall had the third best odds, behind Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, but in recent weeks she has fallen to fourth behind the left winger Jeremy Corbyn.

William Hill’s latest odds are: Burnham 4/5, Yvette Cooper 5/2, Corbyn 4/1 and Kendall 12/1.

But the truth is we do not know for sure. Alistair Darling’s intervention might make some difference as he is an influential figure, but he is no longer an MP and has been quiet on the political scene for some time.

Read his full article here.

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