Top Trumps – Labour Leadership 2010

September 1st 2010 is a significant date in the diary for many reasons. For most schools in Britain it heralds the start of the new academic year. It marks the 25th anniversary of the wreckage of the Titanic being discovered. Uzbekistanis celebrate the 19th year of independence from the former Soviet Union. For Ed, Ed, Dave, Andy and Diane the 1st of September takes on a special significance as it marks the day in which the Labour leadership ballot begins to drop. Throughout the month, Labour party members will be voting in their thousands until the 25th when the results are announced.

Regular readers of the blog will know that this isn’t the first time I’ve strayed from the subject of the coalition. As I’ve stated before you can’t separate the coalition from the Labour leadership election because the winner will have a direct impact on the success or failure of the Con-Dems. If the correct candidate is elected, then they will have the challenge of trying to form a credible opposition.

When I was growing up, my friends and I used to argue about who would win in a fight…who would win between Optimus Prime & Megatron; Dalglish & Kendall; Stallone & Schwarzenegger; Thatcher & Kinnock (ok I made that last one up). Optimus was a truck but Megatron was a plane; Kendall had Sharp but Dalglish had Rush; Stallone had Rocky but Schwarzenegger had The Terminator; Kinnock had Hattersly but Thatcher had Tebbit. We loved nothing more than debating the minute details of each opponent. Sometimes we would fall onto the statistical debating cards, Top Trumps, to assist us.

Well, in a throwback to those salad days, my friends and I were in the pub the other day sharing stories of our complicated lives. During one of our discussions, two of my more troubled friends started to debate the leadership election. As the debate grew to include all of the table, it became clear that we all seemed to share different views of the candidates.  One area where we were all in agreement was on the importance this election has on the country. We just couldn’t agree on how best to judge the candidates…who would win? David has more support from MPs but his brother has the overwhelming support of the Unions; Diane is a woman, the rest all look the same; Well, just for fun, I’ve made these cards to help me choose and I hope they help you decide…the Cameron card is also included in the pack. (Cards not to be used for serious debate…watch out for the ‘special’ election reform referendum pack soon).

Ed 'I'm not David' Miliband

Ed 'I almost lost my seat' Balls

Diane 'I'm a woman' Abbott

Andy 'I'm northern' Burnham

David 'I'm not Tony but by god I want to be' Cameron

David 'I'm not Tony or Gordon' Miliband

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Chuckle more than Abel?

The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why are you downcast? If you do right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Wise words and ones that should be heeded by messers Ed and David Miliband if they are to revitalise a disconsolate Labour Party. A party still reeling from an election defeat that has left many believing that the party has no immediate future. Now I know that this topic doesn’t relate directly to Camegg but the winner of this brotherly battle will have a direct impact on the Con-Dem coalition. The Conservatives spent years in the political wilderness because they didn’t or couldn’t form a creditable opposition. If Labour get it right now then they could be returned to power in less than 5 years.

Let’s examine a little further the future of this legitimate brotherhood that seeks to rip a hole into the illegitimate bond between Cameron & Clegg. There is evidence to suggest, throughout history, that two brothers working together leaves one less well placed than the other, especially when they both fight for superiority, so how should Ed and Dave proceed? Furthermore, does age count? Will Dave triumph over Ed simply because he is the elder brother? Lets look at some of the evidence;

Cain & Abel – History’s biggest and oldest brotherly fall out. Cain being the first murderer in history, killing his brother when feeling rejected by God and jealous of his brother. Cain was then forced to wander the earth as a punishment. Cain was the elder brother, so 1-0 to Cain. However, you could argue that Abel won as he was the winner in God’s eyes, so maybe it should be 1-0 to Abel…so lets call it a draw.  Elder 1-1 Younger

Isaac & Ishmael – Ishmael being the first son of Abraham, was banished along with his mother Hagar, when his younger brother Isaac made an appearance on the scene.  As we know both Isaac and Ishmael are credited to be the founders of the worlds two oldest religions, Judaism and Islam. Both religions still carry a grudge and refuse to talk to each other…Broigus to an extreme! Isaac was the younger brother so 1-0 to him. Elder 1 – 2 Younger

Gary and Phil Neville – Both started out playing for the biggest football team in the world with varying degrees of success. Gary still plays for Man Utd but poor Phil was farmed out to a lesser club after several inconsistent years. Who knows if there is any animosity around the Christmas dinner table? Gary has continued to win league medals whereas Phil has won nothing since leaving Utd therefore an emphatic win for Gary 1-0. Elder 2 -2 Younger

Rudolf and Adolf Dassler – Both brothers started making sports shoes in their mothers laundry room during the 1920s. Thought to have both fallen out with each other during an allied bomb attack during  1943. Rudolf called the Allied warplanes ‘dirty bastards’ and Adi thought he was talking about him…typical of any brotherly relationship. Then in 1948 they split their business, Adi set up Adidas and Rudi set up Ruda (later changed to Puma). Adidas is by far the more successful brand so Adi wins this one for the younger brothers. Elder 2 – 3 Younger

Noel and Liam Gallagher – founding members of legendary Indi band Oasis. Noel left the band recently because he found the constant arguing with Liam too much. Liam still believes that he is the more talented brother…Noel still believes that he is. Difficult this one really,  Noel the superior songwriter is undoubtedly the most talented out of the pairing, but Noel’s songs are nothing without the chutzpah and vocal stylings of Liam. Draw. Elder 3 -4 Younger

So the younger brother just wins but what can Ed and Dave learn from these historical relationships? Well it’s probably not a good idea, no matter how jealous you get, that you murder your brother…thats the first and most obvious thing to bear in mind. Both David and Ed have said the right things about blood being thicker than water and that first and foremost they are brothers before politicians…but can that last? One thing that these case studies have shown us is that  ambition seems to win out in the end.

There is always an exception and this is no different. A case where both brothers work together in partnership, working together for the common good…’The Chuckle Brothers’. Both Barry and Paul work very well together, although you would have to admit that Barry is the lesser of the two brothers, always seeming to come off worse.

What we can say is that the commonality between all sets of brothers is that neither would have been as successful or notorious without the other. Without Cain there wouldn’t have been an Abel, without Ishmael there would have been no Isaac, no Barry without Paul.  The brotherly rivalry spurred each of them on to achieve more than arguably they could have done alone.

So I suppose the best advice that both Ed and Dave could take would simply be to look no further than their party cards. They should simply turn them over and read, ‘By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we do alone.’

Lets hope that both Ed and Dave look to this Labour core value and they simply don’t play ‘To me, to you’ with the party for too long.