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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Labour leadership - where the candidates stand

The clock is ticking, for whoever wins the Labour leadership contest has got less than two years to save the party. Now that the two candidates are out in the field the Sunday Independent today examines who is better qualified to pull off a miracle cure under 10 separate criteria.

Published 08/06/2014 | 02:30

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Joan Burton is standing for the Labour party leadership. Photo: Damien Eagers
Joan Burton is standing for the Labour party leadership. Photo: Damien Eagers
Alex White
Alex White

The issues:Joan Burton vs Alex White

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AUSTERITY When it comes to criticising austerity; only Michael D was out of the traps earlier. Burton's position may be influenced by her ministry, but, her analysis goes far beyond special pleading.

Burton Score: 7/10

A critic of austerity hampered by a back-bench role but others, such as Colm Keaveney, managed to make a bigger impact. More at home with the 'gay marriage is the biggest civil rights issue of our time' wing and we saw how well that played in Meath East.

White Score: 5/10

STANDING UP TO SINN FEIN The politically and ideologically literate Burton knows Sinn Fein plans to do to Labour what they did to the SDLP, with bells on. Sharp attack on Sinn Fein's IRA connections will have told Gerry this lady is not for turning on the Coalition front.

Burton Score: 8/10

Very much a child of the war of the Student Princes' campaign against Section 31 who has just like all childhood radicals struggled to recognise how much the world has changed since. Tried to be tactically subtle in his response to the C-word and looked naive instead.

White Score:3/10

STANDING UP TO FINE GAEL Has led a FG party that has been casting sharks' eyes at the dole for three years now a merry dance. Hated by certain elements of FG yet manages to get on well with FG Ministers.

Burton Score: 8/10

The 'nothing to do with me lads; ask the gaffer' line on medical cards did not impress in a scenario where even loyal FG back-benchers like Jerry Buttimer were more rebellious.

White Score: 4/10

THE GENERATION GAME Her status as a pensioner leaves her vulnerable when it comes to her capacity to connect with the 30- and 40-somethings. In terms of knowledge of the real world she is far ahead of the rest of the Cabinet.

Burton Score: 6/10

Warmer than his Southside barrister persona suggests but still unlikely to appeal to the desolate 30 and 40-somethings who have shifted from Labour to Sinn Fein.

White Score: 4/10

AUTHORITY Not quite an 'Iron Lady' but knows her mind. Despite a talkative persona which can drive the Labour 'lads' mad she possesses the 'boss' gene.

Burton Score: 7/10

Badly wounded by his role in the Gilmore resignation saga. At a minimum was left looking like an opportunist when he weighed in behind 'the seven dwarves'.

White Score: 3/10

EMPATHY GENE National Grandmum who is the best campaigner in Irish politics since Bertie. Enough said.

Burton Score: 7/10

Good communicator but sometimes a capacity for sweet-talking secures the distrust of 'Paddy'.

White Score: 4/10

CABINET SUPPORT Happy to secure the public neutrality of Brendan Howlin and believed to be close to Alan Kelly. After that the degree of support for 'that lady' amongst the Labour hierarchy is chilly.

Burton Score:3/10

Reverse applies on all fronts to Alex but whether being the leadership's special child is as good as it appears to be is another thing.

White Score:7/10

SUPPORT AMONGST THE LOWER ORDERS With 17 declared supporters varying from Anne Ferris to Jan O'Sullivan, despite initial anxieties Joan has established a commanding lead both in the Seanad and amongst the TDs.

Burton Score: 7/10

It is not so good here for Alex either. The Seanad is chilly and with five supporters the failure to win over a critical mass of TDs has left Alex looking perilously like the bosses' choice.

White Score:4/10

A NEW DIRECTION Two decades at the top means Burton may struggle. However, her re-invention from the 'ethics scold' who lost her seat in 1997 suggests she has some capacity in this regard.

Burton Score: 4/10

It is a struggle to precisely decipher how a loquacious barrister might differ from the Sir Talks-a-lot he is replacing. #

White Score: 3/10

POLITICAL STABILITY It's strange that some believe the fall of this wretched Government might be a bad thing. Those who fear 'that lady' might do this obviously have not been looking at the astute manner in which she has protected her budget.

Burton Score: 6/10

Clever and adroit but like sport, politics is about toughness and character. Questions abound as to how lawyerly Alex will stand up to the FG Bash St Kids and from there how he might control his own party.

White Score: 5/10

TOTAL: BURTON 63/100 WHITE 42/100

ANALYSIS: The campaign may be only a week old but already it appears to be a case of ice-cold in Labour for Alex. In politics there can be many a slip between cup and lip, but, in this case Alex needs to pray Joan suffers a Devon Loch-style fall.

Sunday Independent

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