The debate between the four contenders for the Labour Party leadership, organised by the Fabians and televised by BBC 2, was very odd. Who did they all think they were talking to, and how seriously did they take it? Well, obviously they were talking to the Fabians. What percentage of the electoral college is that? Something into several points of a fraction of 1 per cent. They were, presumably, talking to the whole of the rest of the Labour Party, which was, they hoped, tuned in. And how many of these are a. still undecided or b. in possession of any vote or say in the matter? Probably very few, though there will have been some in both the trade union and the constituency sections. They can hardly have been hoping to influence their fellow MPs through the media – so we can count the third element of the electoral college out as part of the putative audience. But were they talking to the electorate? One of them is going to be the Leader of the Labour Party, Leader of Her Majesty’s official Opposition, and the person who has got to convince the electorate that the Labour Party will win next time. Were any of them talking this way? Two were and two weren’t. And the two who were are those who – by common consent – will get nowhere near the leadership, Eric Heffer and Peter Shore.
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