1. How long were party leaders MPs before they got the top job? Fabulous chart from Matthew Smith. Liz Kendall has already been in the House of Commons for longer than David Cameron was before he became leader.
Cameron’s apprenticeship was so short I still remember him claiming he had been an MP for five years when he was running for the leadership, which wasn’t true at the time unless he meant “in my fifth year”.
An even shorter induction period was served by Nick Clegg, who was elected party leader during his first Parliament as an MP, after just two years and seven months, but that was the Liberal Democrats.
There is a bigger question, though, which is how much of what kind of experience do you need to be an effective prime minister. Tony Blair was the first since Ramsay MacDonald to have had no ministerial experience whatever, quickly followed by Cameron.
2. Chuka Umunna on BBC Question Time last night (from 53’50”) was interesting on the Labour Party having to get over Blair (which he said as someone who opposed the Iraq war) and the message that the leadership election sends to the wider electorate. In other words, if Labour members think that they can have a free first-preference vote for Jeremy Corbyn because he won’t win and then give their second preference to a serious candidate, they should think again.
3. I commend Rohullah Yakobi’s powerful advocacy of Liz Kendall for leader. As an Afghan he is particularly incensed by her supporters being described as New Labour Taliban, and by Corbyn’s ignorant point-scoring on the assumption that Nato intervention in Afghanistan achieved nothing.
4. As ever, Philip Collins is worth reading in The Times today (pay wall). Here is part of it:
“The best reaction, as a rule, when your opponent steals your idea is to welcome the apostate to your fold and ask what took him so long. It is galling for Labour to witness Mr Osborne abolish the permanent status of non-doms, sting hedge funds and private equity firms for capital gains tax, impose an 8 per cent profits surcharge on the banks and force an apprenticeship levy on employers. These were all policies that Labour first suggested. Mr Osborne sneered at them first and has now shamelessly purloined them.
“There are two lessons here for Labour. The first is that how a policy sounds depends on the tone of voice of the advocate. It’s not all about press bias. If Ed Miliband suggests a profits surcharge you get the impression he wants to foreclose capitalism. It smells like the distilled essence of his politics. When George Osborne says the same thing it sounds like an exception concocted to tempt Labour voters. Clever politicians push against the grain of their own party and therefore attract new supporters. The second lesson is that a reputation for economic prudence earns a licence to act. Mr Osborne does not need to beg anyone for his credentials as a fiscal hawk, so he can be permitted his fun with wage rates.”
5. Talking of which, I have been a bit of a Living Wage sceptic. Here is what I wrote three years ago, when I found out how the London Living Wage was calculated: “stir-fried wishful tofu”.
6. And finally, thanks to the extraordinary Moose Allain, who just keeps turning them out:
“Incredible to think some of the original tamagotchis are just finishing their university degrees.”Reuse content