I just read the Guardian’s account of today’s Labour leadership hustings, and they are not Tory Lite, they are Tory High Octane. Supporting Tory benefit cuts, calling the unemployed “the work-shy”, defending £9,000 a year tuition fees, supporting Trident and falling over themselves to reject autonomy for the Scottish accounting unit. But what I find even more astonishing is that the Fabian Society audience were lining up afterwards for selfies with Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, and according to the Guardian nobody wanted a photo with Jeremy Corbyn, the one decent human being there.
The quite astonishing thing is that Andy Burnham, the man who privatised much more of the English NHS than anyone else including the Tories, is (Jeremy aside) touted as the left wing option. There is a very interesting diversionary tactic in play, all over the media. A meme is being promoted – by Burnham’s corporate media supporters – that “Andy Burnham fears he will be attacked over Mid Staffs hospital”. The events at Mid Staffs hospital, though awful, were clearly not Burnham’s personal fault. This is a fascinating PR play and example of media management, an attempt to divert the focus on Burnham’s NHS record on to Mid Staffs which has widespread public name recognition, and away from privatisation where he is much more vulnerable.