Thanks to Emily Thornberry's tweet, Andy Burnham will be the next Labour party leader

It will take a minor miracle to stop him

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The Independent Online

In this time of minuscule interest rates and volatile stock markets, investors naturally crave safer, better yields. So to anyone seeking a spectacular investment opportunity, I say this. Gather every penny you can and lump the bleedin’ lot on Andy Burnham to be Labour’s next leader. Although Betfair currently offers Andy at 100-30, I calculate his true odds at 1-3 (a 75 per cent chance), thanks to Emily Thornberry. Her infelicitous tweet was one of those rare events – technically, a Ratner Moment – when an error of infinite triviality in itself causes a seismic psychological shift in perception.

The class-related nervous breakdown it has induced in Labour makes it virtually impossible for Ed Miliband to be succeeded by either of the other fancied runners. Yvette Cooper, the 5-2 favourite, carries a robotic north London technocratic taint which was irritating last Wednesday, but is now lethal to her hopes. The ice pixie may exaggerate the cod Northern accent with which this daughter of Hampshire has sometime flirted in the past, but she’s done. So is Chuka Umunna. The 9-2 shot would have been the tip a week ago, but silky, drawly, metrocentric hauteur indelibly sites him, however geographically incorrect the designation, as an archetypal Islingtonian.

As for Tristram Hunt, a privately educated pretty boy from academia can forget about it. And save for a possible saver on Rachel Reeves at 20-1, that is that, so far as the viable candidates go.

Burnham’s fellow Liverpudlian John Lennon regarded a working-class hero as something to be. But in the leadership race anticipated next summer, after one inconclusive election leaves Labour scrambling for a new gaffer to take them into a second, it will be the only thing to be. The cheeky chappie Scouser with a genuine love of the footy (he’d give a limb to play for Everton; he might even trim those luscious, Liza Minelli-in-Cabaret eyelashes) and a professional Northerner image suddenly looks computer-designed for the job.

Having been born and raised in Aintree, Burnham will appreciate that there are no dead certs in hazardous steeplechases, and that crazy stuff can happen in the run-in. Garrison Savannah, apparently made aware that I had backed him heavily, had a 20-length lead after the last in the 1991 Grand National, and was caught close to the line by Seagram, which had bounced up unharmed after doing the splits at Becher’s Brook. It will take a minor miracle on that scale to stop Andy Burnham becoming Labour’s next leader.


Skinner, the authentic voice of experience

While the incumbent remains serenely at the helm, a word of advice. In heaven’s name, Little Ed, don’t waste Dennis Skinner. The old man is on cracking form, demolishing Mark Reckless in the Commons on Friday by pointing out that every one of the medical team which saw him through his heart bypass was a migrant worker.

Prolier than thou politics is not to all tastes, but this will be the game between now and May, and nobody plays it better. Skinner needs a central election role, travelling with Miliband to Ukip-threatened Northern heartlands to do the Old Testament prophet number through a megaphone. Release the Kraken.


Better than central casting could have provided

I do hope we haven’t heard the last of Dan Ware, the cuddly-looking chap whose decorative Kent home gave rise to all this merriment. Last seen posing outside Emily Thornberry’s house on The Sun’s behalf, Dan is not politically engaged – he had no idea there was a by-election in Rochester until the tweet detonated – which is entirely the point.

As he is a perfect paradigm of the “decent, ordinary working person” disenfranchised by snooty Westminster types, party leaders must try to befriend him on the precedent of “Joe the Plumber” – the Ohioan who in 2008 challenged Barack Obama about his evil plan to raise income tax on earnings above $250,000 per annum. When Joe became an instant piece of political iconography (the little guy who was mad as hell and not gonna take it any more), John McCain fought off Obama to make him his bestie.

Dan too deserves to become a tug-of-love voter, with Messrs Cameron and white van respecter-in-chief Miliband – he can’t set eyes on a Transit without welling up – battling for his endorsement. Who, after all, would dare second guess the world view of a shaven-haired cage fighter who festoons his home with St George’s crosses and West Ham pennants, and tells The Sun he wants an end to all immigration? That would be as grotesque as stereotyping people by an N1 postcode … and as the editor of the Daily Mail (who may have sold his gorgeous house in an Islington terrace upon purchasing his vast Highlands estate) would tell you, we’ll have none of that.


When choosing a new career, consider your strengths

If and when Little Ed turns his mind to his next career, his “never been so furious” reaction to Ms Thornberry’s faux pas offers a handy hint.

The fearsome adrenaline rush caused by the mental image of Miliband bursting his shirt buttons suggests he should audition for a forthcoming remake of The Incredible Hulk, even if the old TV catchphrase would need amending. “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t notice me when I’m angry.”


More evidence for the court of public opinion

Inspired by the Rochester and Strood result, The Sun on Sunday commissions a poll, and is staggered to discover that 75 per cent of readers view immigration and asylum as the paramount issue. The paper finds this “extraordinary”, and so it is. Completely inexplicable.

Elsewhere, meanwhile, was a double-page spread headlined “The Desperate Tide of Migrants That Could Bring Ebola To Britain”. As I said, inexplicable.