Labour’s Leeds hustings was dry, dull and uninspiring

There were few new ideas and no engagement with the audience


Saturday’s Labour leadership hustings event took place in the shadow of Elland Road, the home of Leeds United football club.

A once great premiership club, last season Leeds United came 15th in the Championship, England’s second-tier club league. The club has been led by six different managers since 2012.

Sadly, the venue provided an all too apt metaphor for the state of the Labour Party, and reinforced the need for the party to pick a leader who will get it back to being genuine contenders for power once again.

For so many party members and supporters to have given up their Saturday afternoons to travel from across Yorkshire to the event was a sign of a party engaging well, and genuinely excited about the opportunities that leadership elections present.

Sadly though, the enthusiasm and interest will have been severely dampened by the party’s botched efforts at a hustings event.

First, the event started 15 minutes late, leaving what had been billed as an hour long ‘debate’ curtailed to 45 minutes.

Just six questions were asked, and the candidates were given so little time to respond that little was said that we didn’t know already.

The Labour party stands at a crossroads. We need to show not just why we should be trusted to run the country again, but more fundamentally, why we should exist.

At no point did candidates get a proper opportunity to debate with one another. And at no point were party members, the bedrock of the party, given the chance to provide their ideas – there was even an announcement at the start that clapping and other audience reactions were not allowed.

The whole thing was dull, dry and uninspiring. It came across as the platform for some sort of stitch-up, to prevent the serious debate and group think the party actually needs.

Andy Burnham had his one liners, although did not do as well as perhaps he would have liked.

Yvette Cooper got the biggest cheer when she accused David Cameron of having a woman problem, and called on the party to give him a bigger woman problem by electing her as leader.

But in truth there was little to distinguish Burnham and Cooper in their visions for the party and I left feeling underwhelmed by both performances.

Jeremy Corbyn was at least consistent. His views now are those he’s always held and the biggest cheer he got was his call for the country to unilaterally get rid of its nuclear weapons. Fears are growing about how well he is doing in the contest, which I would share.

But Corbyn’s approach is a lesson for all the other candidates – he has a clear, different vision that is easily understood.

And finally, Liz Kendall – at this point I should declare my interest as a supporter.

In her closing statement, Kendall made a brave pitch. Pointing to Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper she warned members, rightly in my view, that more of the same from the past five years simply will not do.

She then pointed to Jeremy Corbyn, and warned of the dangers of going off to the hard left. Kendall called instead for a fresh start, for someone different who seeks to apply Labour’s values to the world as it is, not as we might want it to be.

Sadly, that was about it. No debate, no cross examination, and no sense that those who gave up their Saturday afternoon had learnt anything new.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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17 Responses to “Labour’s Leeds hustings was dry, dull and uninspiring”

  1. Torybushhug

    ‘But Corbyn’s approach is a lesson for all the other candidates – he has a clear, different vision that is easily understood’.

    No, he is simply the most populist, promising people what they want to hear, which comes in the form of an endless list of commitments to spend more money.

    Any fool could employ this simplistic, populist Robin Hood narrative, it’s the obvious narrative to use if you want to guarantee applause and Saint like status. In other words the easiest way of being. Us righties could easily adopt this simplistic compassion narrative but we would not be able to endure the dishonesty of it.

  2. swat

    That’s par for the course; and future Hustings will be even duller, But who can blame the candidates because its such a long campaign; 2 months was far too long; should have been over and done with in a week. I went to the very first, in Stevennage, which was great, the candidates were fresh, but now they are stale saying the same things, they know their scripts by heart, now. Its like Repertory Theatre playing 3 times a week and Matinees
    I’m going to the Coop Party Hustings next week, and that’ll be it.
    That why he Leader should be Temp and interim so that we can make a better choice in 2018, because we’re bound to make a mistake this time round.

  3. stevep

    Most governments are elected to “throw money and resources at issues”. The Tories like to throw it at the rich, the corporations, tax dodgers and firms not yet paying a living wage. So did new Labour.
    The Left, personified by Jeremy Corbyn like to throw it at creating a fairer, more democratic society, better healthcare, a safety net for the disabled and disadvantaged, better public services, well paid, stable employment etc.
    As for the current Tory Government, Reverse Robin Hood narrative is the actuality.

  4. UnrepentantBennite93

    You neglected to mention that only about five people applauded Liz Kendall. I’m guessing the writer was one of them. It was quite pitiful. I considered giving her sympathy applause. By far, she performed the worst. There was audible laughing at some of her more ridiculous statements.

    Her answer to the housing question was pathetic as well. She basically said she wouldn’t do anything that would change things in favour tenants.

    No one is going to vote for Liz Kendall in a general election. If people want someone who is proper nasty, they’ll go for a Tory or a UKIP-per. They won’t bother with her. The Labour Party will wither and die like its sister parties in Denmark and Greece, if it goes with the Kendall approach which is ‘appear as unthreatening to the powers-that-be as possible, before all else – satisfy the strong’. The bigger problem you ought to be considering is, if she wins, who is going to stay given her lack of support within the party?

    I, for one, won’t be campaigning for Liz Kendall to become Prime Minister. And I suspect I’m not at all alone.

  5. Cole

    It’s highly unlikely Corbyn will be elected – I hope (I assume Labour doesn’t want to get under 20% next time). But he does come up with some good populist lines in contrast to the dreary stuff from the others.

  6. Ian

    Corbyn’s priorities actually reflect those of the electorate. ou wouldn’t know that from sites like these, though. Rightists like his author are as bad as anything Murdoch can vomit up.

  7. Ian

    Straight questions to the author: If you support that quisling crptoTory charlatan Liz Kendall, why did you join the Labour party in the first place and why do you remain in it? No matter how many neoliberals infest the PLP, you and people like you will never be genuine Labour supporters, you will never hold the same values as the rank and file members who have never been within a million miles of th Westminster bubble. Your views actively clash with genuine Labour members.

    So why are you in the party?

    What genuine Labour person would talk about supporting ‘those who do their bit’ or ‘wealth creators’?

    What actual Labour person would support putting more children from the poorest families into poverty?

    What genuine Labour person would mindlessly follow the Tory narrative ,come what may, on an unprecedented con job like the totally unnecessary austerity programme?

    Right wingers like you are the reason for the Labour party’s downfall, now you seem hellbent on killing it completely.

    I suspect there might be some careerism at the heart of this because if Corbyn wins, people like will be persona non grata.

    Cannot happen soon enough for me.

  8. Torybushhug

    Throwing money at the welfare system causes huge numbers of people not to realise anything like thier full potential. You guys have this idea you own compassion, you do not, your simplistic populist solutions simply grow the mass underclass and cause children to have thier horizons dimmed. God I wish I thought in such a paint by numbers way, so convienient and I would get to virtue signal at every turn.

  9. Torybushhug

    Don’t you dare say in 2020 when a lefty Labour Party looses that you knew all along a lurch left was a mistake. Remember your words.
    You will never understandf the nature of Human motivation and how endemic welfare causes children and others to disengage with thier autonomy as agents of change. Same old lefties, quaint.

  10. Ian

    Baseless shite.

    Same old rightists, ho-hum.

  11. AlanGiles

    Old Kendall points a lot, don’t she?. All that expensive education she never misses an opportunity to boast about and she wasn’t taught it’s rude to point. I trust that as she has belittled her colleagues, she will have the decency not to accept a job from them if one of them wins?

    The ennui and dullness is only to be expected from a three month campaign. They have made their initial offers (leaving most people underjoyed), and between then and the final few days of the campaign it will be the trotting out of the bits that got the biggest clap the last time they used it. Then it will be the final “final” offers. As borinng, predictable and banal as an advert for Andrex lavatory paper

  12. AlanGiles

    Yes people must learn to stand on their own two feet. That’s what Brown and the leather queen (Purnell) were thinking when they annointed David Freud as an “expert on welfare”. That’s why they introduced ATOS to make sure those damned lazy spongers who had terminal cancer spent their final months on JSA, because they were “fit to work”. That’ll learn them. And that vile man in drag Liz Kendall will jolly well make sure we keep these values.

  13. Graham Coupe

    Anyone who supports Kendall should be shot. Are Labour so out of touch that they can only mimic the tories in an effort to regain credibility?

  14. DonaldSNelson

    ^^^^^Reset your job with leftfootforward… < ***** Find Here

  15. Steve Larson

    Most of the Labour party isn’t bothered either way, about anything. No hunger.

  16. Wilhelm Fakenameson

    And disengaging with one’s autonomy is far far worse than disengaging with the means to feed one’s children properly, right?

  17. Wilhelm Fakenameson

    You get that not having enough to eat doesn’t do a lot for a child’s ability to reach their potential, right? It’s awfully hard to concentrate on your homework when you didn’t have dinner because your mother’s JSA was sanctioned.

    It’s a shame but reality isn’t about intellectual purity. If there are people needing to be housed and fed in a society that has the resources to do that, then to deny it to them because you hold so tight to your libertarian wank-fantasies is to abdicate even a pretense of basic human decency.

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