Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'A New Leader Will Be Elected but This Debate Will Go On' the Political Interview Liz Kendall May Be in Fourth Place in the Labour Leadership Battle, but She Tells Joe Murphy She Still Plans to Have a Real Say on the Party's Future

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'A New Leader Will Be Elected but This Debate Will Go On' the Political Interview Liz Kendall May Be in Fourth Place in the Labour Leadership Battle, but She Tells Joe Murphy She Still Plans to Have a Real Say on the Party's Future

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy

HANG ON, Liz Kendall, this isn't your office. We are sitting in an untidy eyrie at 1 Parliament Street festooned with papers, coffee cups and water bottles.

Her real office, surely, is that spotless ultra-modernist cell seen in her latest campaign video, where she was filmed writing a letter to party members on a swish Apple computer? "Oh," she con-fessed, "that was my campaign office. My campaign staff are much more tidy than me." But she sagely tapped her forehead, behind which lurks a brain that got a first at Cambridge, and intoned mock serious: "But it's all tidy in here, Joe, all tidy in here."

There's a glitter of mischief about Ms Kendall, which brightens the young moderniser who lectures Labour about financial responsibility when its members seem bent on a credit card spree with Jeremy Corbyn. After three months of gruelling campaigning, the polls suggest she is fourth-placed and facing defeat.

In a candid interview, she admitted she was being "squeezed" by her three rivals -- Mr Corbyn, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper -- and suggested for the first time that she plans to take up a policy creating role, which could see her playing a leading part in a modernising faction.

"Labour needs some serious thinking over the next five years," she said. "About how we need to change, and to set out something different."

That could well mean linking up with Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt, the two shadow ministers who the Evening Standard revealed were setting up a new policy group which has been dubbed The Resistance. "It's a great idea," she said. "If I'm invited I would certainly go along."

She went on: "Honestly? I think the debate is going to continue after September 12. The new person will be elected, but this debate is going to go on for a long time."

The moment Ms Kendall decided to run for leader was when her hairdresser told her: "You [Labour] are not for people like me who want to get on in life." Undaunted by the prospect of coming last in the contest, she hammers out home truths as she sees them. Labour "just didn't have anything to say" to the millions who earn above the minimum wage, or run businesses or own their own homes. Since May, she despairs, it "has gone backwards" by embracing Corbynomics.

"We have to convince people we believe in sound finances," she said. "There's nothing progressive about spending more on servicing your debt than on educating your children."

HER moderniser message resonates more in the south of England than in Labour's northern heartlands. Team Cooper this week revealed that Ms Kendall is more popular than Mr Burnham in London.

Asked if she believed Labour should take seriously the idea of Southern Discomfort, the phenomenon of the party doing badly in the south outside London, Ms Kendall instantly replied: "Absolutely. …

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