Labour: Great Viewing, But Missing A Character?

As we head into the second half of summer, television viewers find themselves faced with a schedule destitute of quality programming (even on the 'national treasure' BBC). But have no fear, telly addicts - Labour has your back.

Miss the vicious backstabbing of Game of Thrones? The Labour leadership race has you covered.

Yearn for the acidic caricatures and political skulduggery of an Armando Iannucci satire? Labour has them in spades.

Pine for the Machiavellian plotting of Breaking Bad? Well, you get my point.

However, whilst the leadership battle is providing daily entertainment for those with no horse in the race, you can't help but feel that the production is missing its leading lady. Harriet Harman, for all her faults, has put in a solid performance as interim leader thus far, dealing with the fallout of the electoral disaster with relative poise and even causing the Prime Minister some discomfort from the dispatch box.

It's difficult to imagine any of the four prospective Mili-successors achieving a similar level of authority and displaying such skilful navigation. Burnham and Cooper still carry the stench of the Miliband years, and are too dismal and dour. Even when the English sun is blazing, they have the look of a pair stuck under their own personal rainclouds. Kendall and Corbyn, on the other hand, provide a semblance of personality and positivity, but are too far entrenched to the centre and left respectively to offer any sort of party unity. Indeed it has been imagined by various scribes that under a Corbyn iron fist the Labour party would split, with the Blairites forming a new Social Democrat Party. That amusing thought doesn't seem quite so outlandish given the hirsute Islington MP's lead in the polls.

Back to Harriet, though. She carries enough respect from the left to pull the party together, but enough common sense to realise that it is the antiquated far leftist policies and constantly negative opposition-for-the-sake-of-it that are the root of Labour's problem, rather than a foolish electorate. There was a glimmer of hope for anyone wishing to see a capable and reasoned opposition party when she announced that she wouldn't oppose the government's welfare bill. Unfortunately that hope immediately dissipated as the loony left launched into a histrionic tirade about 'sticking to Labour values,' forcing a change of stance for appeasement's sake.

Therein lies the rot at the core of modern Labour. They allow themselves to be pulled too far left, be it by union money or by the rantings of their socialist ranks. When it comes to welfare, they misguidedly perceive themselves to be some sort of modern day Robin Hood: tax the rich, give frivolously to the poor, then it's back to the house for sanctimonious back-slapping and vegan cocktails. In reality, however, they punitively tax the middle, and give the poor no incentive for furtherment. Party of aspiration? You must be joking.

Let's see how the Robin Hood analogy really plays out. Robin gives you, a lowly serf, enough stolen money that you can eventually pull yourself up by your bootstraps and start a small business. One day he reappears - on behalf of the poor, you understand. Rather than ask for your help in providing jobs and wages now that you are able, he treats you like one of the rich, and robs you of a portion of your earnings. Champion of the poor? More like narcissistic do-gooder. This is the cycle perpetuated by Labour: once you work long and hard enough to extract yourself from the welfare state, they expect you to pay a disproportionately large amount from your earnings in order to prop it up. So why bother working so hard in the first place!

The Conservatives, through business tax breaks and the welfare bill, are trying to put a stop to this cyclical dependancy on welfare. They want to incentivise businesses to create jobs, and the needy in society to want to take them, helping both the poor and the economy in one fell swoop. Harriet Harman evidently saw some good in this, but she was fought tooth and nail by the blind and barmy to her left. At least she gave it a shot, though - I doubt any of the four contenders would have had either the nous or gumption. The British public will get to see Harman take on David Cameron one last time at PMQs in September. Labour supporters should set their Sky+ box accordingly: they'll need the fond memories over the next five years.