Daily catch-up: the Labour leadership election hasn’t yet got to grips with why the party lost

Plus Charles Kennedy, more on inequality and another view of old London

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The Independent Online

1. Time for another of Sir William Davenant’s pictures of old London. Behold Waterloo Bridge and the Lambeth Waterfront as viewed from Westminster Stairs c1821.

2. Fair to say that the Labour leadership election has yet to grip the nation’s imagination. Labour MPs have nearly done their bit, which is to nominate the candidates and to give a steer to party members as to which of them commands the widest support in the House of Commons. After that their votes in the election are worth the same as those of party members in general, and those of affiliated and registered supporters.

The latest nominations are compiled by Labour List here. So far Andy Burnham is a long way ahead on 53, followed by Yvette Cooper on 33 and Liz Kendall on 24 (Labour List hasn’t added some of the latest, and candidates may also nominate themselves). Mary Creagh, with eight, seems unlikely to make the 35 required to stand.

What Labour List has done, though, is to note how nominating MPs voted in the leadership election last time. Unsurprisingly, most of Burnham’s nominations come from those whose first choice was Ed Miliband last time; most of Cooper’s from those whose first choice was Ed Balls; and most of Kendall’s from those who voted for David Miliband.

3. I find Burnham’s early lead in nominations and betting strange. It is not as if Kendall is so untried that she can be ruled out already. Stephen Bush has a good profile of her at the New Statesman, and he has spoken to Patricia Hewitt, her former boss. She comes across better on television than either Burnham or Cooper, and she understands why Labour lost.

After the Polly Toynbee and Mehdi Hasan account of why Labour lost (right message, wrong leader – incidentally the one they promoted), we now have the Mary Riddell version. “Labour’s problem was never primarily a deficient leader but a dying party.”

This is just as mistaken. The last election was winnable for Labour. It simply needed the right message and the right leader. The next election is also winnable, but I think that only Kendall can win it.

4. Of all the tributes to Charles Kennedy, Alastair Campbell’s was the most affecting. My colleague Sean O’Grady, who used to be Paddy Ashdown’s press officer, is also interesting. My attempt to assess Kennedy’s role in the rise and fall of the Liberal Democrats is here.

5. My colleague Ben Chu has responded to my recent posts about inequality in Britain, making the point that the top one per cent has increased its share of income steadily since the 1970s, apart from a big dip after the 2008 crash. I have always said that this is almost a separate question from inequality generally, because so many of the top one per cent are globally mobile.

The rise in the share of the top one per cent has been offset in the past two decades by greater equality among the rest of the income distribution. This is shown most clearly by the Palma ratio, which is the ratio between the income of the top 10 per cent and that of the bottom 40 per cent. Thanks to Alex Cobham for this graph, comparing the Palma with the Gini coefficient, and suggesting that the Blair Government made good progress towards equality on this measure:




6. And finally, thanks to Moose Allain ‏for this news:

“London place names you can use as verbs and adjectives will soon be Maida Valeable.”