Labour's ideal leader - female, Scots and called Tony

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ALTHOUGH the issue of the Labour leadership has been temporarily shelved, out of respect for the prospect of doing well in the Euro elections, there is nevertheless a lot of interest in the forthcoming battle. Indeed, in the absence of other news, the papers have talked of little else for days. So much for the idea of temporarily shelving the issue of the Labour leadership.

However, those who have been out of the country for the past few days, or, indeed, asleep for the past 15 years, may be unfamiliar with some of the names being bruited around, and may I say en passant how nice it is to see French expressions like bruit and en passant being used - this column will never be afraid to use a French expression even when there is a better English one. Where was I?

Oh, yes. Here is a run-down of the likely runners for the post of next prime minister.

Tony Gordon-Brown

A Scotsman and therefore a front-runner. The Labour Party has not had an English leader since Michael Foot, who was such a disaster they have sworn never to have an English one again. Hence the appearance of Neil Kinnock from Wales and John Smith from Edinburgh. However, the Labour Party was uncomfortably aware that the name John Smith sounded a wee bit English. Tony Gordon-Brown would avoid that danger.

Jock Blair-Cunningham

All the above applies also to Jock Blair-Cunningham, whose only real disadvantage is that he is not called Tony, which market research shows is the name preferred by six out of ten Labour voters. If elected leader of the Labour Party, Jock Blair-Cunningham has pledged himself not to use the expression 'dream ticket'.

St Margaret a Becket

A woman. The Labour Party has never been led by a woman. If she became leader she would be the first woman leader. If she didn't, she wouldn't. That much is clear. However, it is generally agreed that she suffers from two electoral disadvantages. One, she is not a Scotswoman. Two, she is not called Tony. On the other hand, she is not Virginia Bottomley.

Lord Healey of Hillhead

In the unlikely event of the party choosing an older, wiser head, the obvious choice would be Lord Healey of Hillhead. Although he left the Labour Party in the 1980s to form the Social Democrats, then again in 1990 to write his memoirs, and again in 1992 to be a television commentator, there is a huge groundswell of affection for him, if not in the party then in the country at large, and if not in the country at large, then at least at Television Centre. He is quick on his feet on the box and doesn't waste time in make-up beforehand.

Dr Dave

Dr Dave has been away for a long while running a small war in Bosnia in which bitterly opposed factions have been at each other's throats. He is therefore considered by many to be perfectly suited to preside over the Labour Party. Or do they mean the Tory party? Either way, a man to watch, especially behind you in a dark alley.

Michael Portaloo

If Michael Portaloo's leadership ambitions are thwarted in the Tory party, colleagues do not put it beyond him to cross the floor to continue his rise. If elected leader of the Labour Party, he would pledge himself to change his name to McPortaloo.

Brotherly Love

By Keir Hardie out of First Principles. Did well to finish fifth in heavy going in the Sandwich Plate at Epsom and showed well again on Saturday in the big one at Newmarket. Insiders reckon that a big win may be coming soon for this plucky four-year-old. If elected he would fight for the abolition of horse racing.

Terry Mulcahey

Fourth-change bowler for the New Zealand touring side. Promising in-swinger, but not a lot of experience in English conditions. If elected leader he would seriously think about giving up cricket and going into politics full-time.


Member of Enid Blyton's Famous Five and brother of Dick and Anne. No breath of scandal has ever touched Julian, who is unafraid, incorruptible, and always on the look-out for evil goings-on. Among many public-spirited acts, he was responsible for putting the Grim Tower gang behind bars (see Five go to the Grim Tower). Unlikely to appeal to women voters on account of always letting Anne do the washing up in a very patronising sort of way.

Full list of runners and latest odds on request.