The hell keeps on coming for Labour
Collins' first targets are the "cavalry of denial" who are lining up to contest the Labour leadership, so Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham. Noting that Labour's electoral problem was as significant in England as in the much reported Scotland, he describes Yvette Cooper's recent article for the "Mirror" as "a platitudinous, intern-drafted press release for the Pontefract and Castleford Express", taking her to task for the blithe belief that the average voter really liked a lot of what Labour was saying. Er, no they didn't, notes Collins.
On to Andy Burnham, whom he beautifully stilletos for being "close to tears about how much he loves the NHS" during the election campaign, and goes on to lambast for his belief that millions of people need to have an "emotional connection" with the Labour Party. Responds Collins, "Normal people, in the normal world, have emotional attachments to their families not the Labour Party". On Burnham's leadership bid, the columnist says that "I don't mind that Mr Burnham is Len McCluskey's candidate but it really worries me that he might be George Osborne's". (There is, by the way, a fantastically vituperative several lines aimed at McCluskey's wretched impact on the Labour Party concluding "belt up and leave the politics to people who know what they're doing.")
But it is Ed Miliband for whom Philip Collins reserves his most scathing ire. Noting that Mr. Miliband shows little sign of acknowledging that his whole election strategy might have been wrong, based as it was on a misguided belief that the country had somehow moved, or could be persuaded to move, sharp left, Collins takes the former leader to task for his vain and misguided campiagn. Suggesting that the Miliband strategy was to speak only to the 2% of the rich and 8% of the poor, but not to the unsqueezed middle in between, he writes:
"The Labour party in 2015 became the victim of a ghastly atavistic dispute, the lab rat for Mr Miliband's experiment in proving that his father, who insisted there was no parliamentary road to socialism, was right all along."
It is a tour de force of an article, well worth the price of today's "Times" (it is behind a paywall online, but cough up for a copy; if we don't pay for our journalism we'll end up with only having uninformed free stuff and that's no future for comment or reportage). Andy Burnham is overdue for a bit of well placed lambasting. A ghastly, over-emotional head in the sand denier of even his own previous record as Health Secretary, he must indeed be the preferred choice of the Tory Party for next Labour leader. He's good for another few constituency defections in five years time if anybody is. But Miliband too, in his absolute conviction that he was the right leader for Labour, a conviction that took him to fratricide and then to five years of sheer bloody torture for his party as they tried to convince themselves that he would come good in the end, is overdue for a bit of effective dousing.
Collins suggests that there could be optimism for the Labour party if they bother to heed the lines of the re-awakened Blairites and go for a next generation leader like Umunna, Kendall or Hunt. He's almost certainly right. If the Tories are worried that the next five years will watch them slowly unravel and expose their fractious tensions to the electorate, they will be praying that Len McCluskey remains the most influential player in the choice of the next Labour leader.