Lisa Nandy is sharp, articulate, charismatic and clever. Of course the Labour Party members aren't going to vote for her

The membership doesn't want a capable leader like this. How could they then blame their problems on everyone else? 

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Wednesday 15 January 2020 22:10 GMT
Lisa Nandy vows to maintain Labour's pledge to abolish university tuition fees

Lisa Nandy began her set-piece interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil almost at the precise moment a party poll estimated her popularity among the membership to have reached the dizzying heights of 7 per cent, placing her fourth out of the five available candidates.

Not a great start, but by the time the interview was finished that figure can only have been lower. And for that, she only has herself to blame.

Here she was, telling the Labour Party that they’ve been “getting it wrong for 15 years”. That huge changes are required. And that, she must know, is not what Labour Party members want.

They categorically do not want a bright, articulate, honest and tenacious young woman. They do not want someone who can listen to tough questions from the toughest interviewer around and calmly reply with tough answers.

What they want, even now, is Jeremy Corbyn. It’s absolutely no use having a leader that can go on TV and give a good account of themselves, defend their position and set out a complex argument. Because if they do that, how are they then meant to blame everything on the biased BBC, the lying MSM, the Blairites, the Rothschilds, the Zionists, the sunshine, the moonlight, the boogie, El Nino and Laura Kuenssberg?

It was, in short, like watching some politics on the telly that was like politics on the telly is meant to be. Like listening to somebody with something to say, who is capable of actual independent thought.

On several occasions, Neil thought he had her on the ropes. Why had Nandy voted against Theresa May’s deal if Boris Johnson’s was worse; why had her position changed? Except that it hadn’t.

“You asked a question, you said you wanted detail, and I’m about to give you some detail,” she told him, before quietly explaining how he was, in fact, in the wrong.

There was some interesting toing and froing over her claims to want to devolve education policy to local authorities – but what would she then do if said local authorities wanted to bring back selective education? A knotty question, that.

To which Nandy replied that she was in favour of empowering local authorities, but not if they then used that power to “disempower” people, which is what selective education does to those who miss out on it.

A knotty answer, in other words. Actual, proper discussion.

What level of income tax would she set?

Well, she didn’t have a direct answer, not a number, but she wanted to look at other ways of taxing beyond the way we do it now. Taxing “polluters”, taxing “wealth”, taxing “unearned income”.

For the first time in a long time, here was a serious person, running for a serious job, in what was once a serious party, not entirely out of her depth, not contriving to lower the occasion to meet her own towering inadequacies.

But, of course, the party doesn’t want that. The poll shows Rebecca Long Bailey/Long-Bailey – who it is absolutely no exaggeration to say does not know how to spell her own name – narrowly ahead over Keir Starmer, on 51 per cent once second preferences count.

And what has she got going for her? The same as the last guy, in that she is completely unsuited to the job. Blissfully unaware, just like he was, of her own vast limitations. Fundamentally useless, and that’s what they want. More of the same. More people to blame. More elections to lose, in the right and proper way.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in