"A Very British Transition" - A Post-Junta Britain TL

I think another Spanish reference crept in.

Are there the equivalent of the Secretary of State for Scotland and Wales in the Cabinet?
The Public Administration Secretary covers relations with the various provinces, as well as liaising with the Scottish Executive
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Chapter 63: The Line

Johnson would enter the history books with a mixed record

“Britain's embattled prime minister announced Saturday he will not seek re-election in 2013. Alan Johnson told a meeting of party leaders he would limit his time in office to two terms, opening a process of primaries to elect his successor. Analysts say the SDP is almost certain to lose next year unless the troubled economy improves. He made the announcement ahead of local elections as a series of polls over the last year showed the centre-right National Party far in the lead. Johnson insisted in his speech that the austerity measures have stabilised Britain's economy. He then announced that he "will not be a candidate in the forthcoming general elections." He also said his decision is best for the country, his party and his family.”
- Britain's embattled PM won't seek another term, CNN News Bulletin (2012)

Like a wounded lion the SDP stumbled on towards local elections, and the vultures began to circle. Incumbent parties traditionally took a beating at second tier elections, and with the protests, strike and being on the verge of a bailout, these elections would be brutal for the SDP. Johnson especially was incredibly unpopular, with an approval rating of minus 36 points; he was a dangerous millstone around the SDP’s neck. Whilst in the 2009 election Johnson had been more popular than the SDP brand, going into 2012 the situation had reversed. Johnson had managed to anger both sides of the political spectrum, pushing away the left with his austerity budget and the right with his socially liberal reforms.


The powerful Church of England were hoping for a National victory

After losing three of his most heavy hitting Cabinet Ministers, and with local elections looming, Johnson made an unprecedented announcement. In a speech outside Downing Street Johnson announced he would not lead the SDP into the next general election, due for 2013, and would look to make way for a fresher, younger face. The man who had led Britain into democracy, and held the ship steady for seven years, was bowing out with some form of grace left. In a country where political leaders would rule their citizens until death did them part, seeing a Prime Minister bow out of his own accord was completely unprecedented. To Johnson’s supporters he was free from the constraints of electoralism, now able to take the tough decisions to avoid a bailout. To his critics he was now a lame duck, leaving the country leaderless.

Rather than help the SDP’s chances, Johnson’s announcement proved a distraction for the party, talk quickly devolved into the runners and riders for party leadership. Senior Cabinet Ministers, including Rosie Boycott, Alan Sugar and Polly Toynbee, would engage in a bitter cold war on the campaign trail as they hoped to set out their stalls for party leadership. Senior MPs were quickly expected to choose sides as the party’s social democratic, progressive and neo-liberal wings all dug in for a protracted leadership battle - as the electorate watched on. Johnson had effectively thrown a hand grenade into the centre of his party.

“High unemployment and a stagnant economy will deal Britain's ruling SDP heavy losses in local elections. Polls show the SDP will lose Birmingham and Nottingham as well as their absolute majority in their Leeds stronghold. The centre-right opposition National Party may also win Newcastle in a close vote. The city has one of the UK’s highest jobless rates and has become a key electoral battleground. “We need a change, a change in the economy. We’ve got to grow in something besides construction,” said Anna Martin, a 25-year-old forensic psychology student from Preston. Anna says she has voted SDP before but on May 22 will vote for any party but. The UK slid into recession in 2008, as a housing bubble burst, destroying hundreds of thousands of construction jobs and piling up bad debt at banks.” -Britain's jobless voters could turn against Social Democrats, Sarah Morris, Reuters (2012)


Sugar was a highly divisive figure on the campaign trial

The main benefactor of Johnson falling on his sword would be National Leader William Hague. Hague had radically overhauled his top team to make the National Party look like a party of government, and himself look like a future Prime Minister. Shadow Cabinet members were banned from wearing military dress in public, only to wear crisp suits. Hague especially wanted to target the midlands, appearing at multiple campaign stops in Nottingham suburbs and Warwickshire villages. Hague hired a new head political strategist, former Obama staffer Jim Messina to coordinate the election campaign. Messenia would coin the term “Herefordshire Man” to describe the target demographic National was chasing, a lower middle class white man in small town Herefordshire, who was fed up with the SDP but had an emotional distrust of the National Party.

Reform also saw a surge in the polls during the local election campaign, especially targeting voters who had abandoned the SNP, but would never in their lives vote National. This included loyalist Scots and the upper-middle class in posh parts of cities like Bristol. Especially in rural councils where the SDP had absolutely no chance of winning, Reform was able to pitch itself as the only party able to stop National. Reform had before outperformed at a local level compared to its general election results so Brown, Rowling and others at the top of the party were eager for Reform to prove it could be a powerful political force, different from both the “economic irresponsibility” of the SDP and the “dangerous euroscepticism” of National.

On the night of the election, the result was even worse for the SDP than most had imagined. Johnson’s announcement had not stemmed the bleeding as the SDP lost thousands of seats in a record swing against the party. A plurality of lost seats were picked up by National whilst Reform and the Socialist Alternative were also able to pick up a few protesting SDP voters to the right and left. Interestingly the local elections also showed a sharp decline in the number of independent and residents association councillors. Analysts argued this was proof of British democracy maturing, political parties were better able to establish themselves, voters were now much happier to vote on national political issues and with national loyalties, rather than voting for Steve the pub landlord from the RA. It had been a nice, stable, partisan landslide against the SDP.

“The impact of the global economic crisis was felt well beyond the economic and financial realms. The crisis also had severe political consequences. Britain followed in the path of many other European countries that saw their governments suffer the wrath of their voters. The SDP was re-elected in a general election in 2009. Soon thereafter, economic conditions deteriorated and the government’s popularity declined . Between 2009 and 2012, there were several electoral contests in the UK at the local and regional level. One common pattern was the outcome: the defeat of the Social Democratic Party and the victory of the National Party. At local levels the SDP suffered historical losses, losing control of local governments that they ruled for years.” - The Economic Crisis in Britain 2008–2013, Lecture by Steve Coulter, LSE (2016)


Britain's working class had turned on the SDP
The Nationals have a only-MPs method of vote but what about SDP? It could be the same, as the Labour Party has it before the Coup. But it could be a more mixed system, as the one in use before Milliband’s adoption of membership vote, to represent the heavy unions’ influence in the party.
The Nationals have a only-MPs method of vote but what about SDP? It could be the same, as the Labour Party has it before the Coup. But it could be a more mixed system, as the one in use before Milliband’s adoption of membership vote, to represent the heavy unions’ influence in the party.
The SDP elects it's leader via a vote at the Federal Congress, delegates to the FC are elected by provincial parties and affiliated trade unions. Usually due to their high name recognition MPs will get easily elected as delegates but this is not guaranteed. To get on the ballot a candidate must be nominated by at least 4 members of the SDP's 35 member strong Executive Committee
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The SDP elects it's leader via a vote at the Federal Congress, delegates to the FC are elected by provincial parties and affiliated trade unions. Usually due to their high name recognition MPs will get easily elected as delegates but this is not guaranteed. To get on the ballot a candidate must be nominated by at least 4 members of the SDP's 35 member strong Executive Committee
Thanks! And how is selected the Executive Committee? Who are the current members?
Thanks! And how is selected the Executive Committee? Who are the current members?
Some are appointed i.e. the Party Leader gets an automatic seat on the Executive Committee, some such as member reps are elected

SDP EC As of May 2012

General Secretary
  • Alan Johnson MP
Deputy General Secretary
  • Rosie Boycott MP
President of the SDP
  • Alun Michael
  • John Mills
  • Floella Benjamin MP
  • Alistair Darling MP
  • Clare Gerada MP
Youth & Students Representative
  • Sam Tarry
Disabled Representative
  • Peter Purton
Ethnic Minority Representative
  • Sunder Katwala
Trade Unions
  • Gary Doolan (GWNU)
  • Jack Dromney (Amicus)
  • Maria Exall (UCW)
  • Paddy Lillis (Usdaw)
  • Kevin Lindsay (ASLEF)
  • Liz Snape (AGO)
  • Frank Ward (TSSA) (Vice-Chair)
Member Representatives
  • Luke Akehurst
  • Johanna Baxter
  • Merlene Emerson (Secretary)
  • Simon Henig
  • Oona King
  • Ann Lucas
  • Florence Nosegbe
  • Ellie Reeves
  • Peter Wheeler
SDP Councillors
  • Alice Perry
  • Dave Sparks
Parliamentary SDP
  • John Healey MP (Chair of the EC)
  • Angela Eagle MP
  • Senator Paddy Ashdown
SDP Provincial Legislators
  • Jim McMahon (Vice-President of Greater Manchester)
  • Nicki Brooks (Derbyshire Parliament SDP Chief Whip)
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Chapter 64: Bailout

NatWest was the largest UK bank to go under

“Britain's bank bailout may seem the latest small step towards tackling the eurozone's debt crisis. But this is an extraordinary moment. The UK is not a tiny economy on the fringes of the continent, but the third largest in the eurozone. Delivering prosperity to a country that was backwater within living memory was the crowning achievement of the single currency. Yet the acknowledgement that London can no longer safeguard its own banks, which are riddled with bad loans, reveals a harsh truth. Being part of the euro club has drawn the UK into a frenzy of cut-price credit, and a catastrophic crash. €140bn will not be enough to prevent a full-blooded bailout of the government at a later date.”
- The UK's bank bailout will not assuage the need for strong economic measures, Nicholas Kulish, New York Times (2012)

It wasn’t enough, the tuition fees, the tax rises, nothing seemed to stop Britain’s banking sector collapsing. The country knew it was in real trouble when NatWest went under. NatWest had over 100 billion euros in capital, making it the 11th largest bank in the United Kingdom. Economists calculated that the British financial sector would need another 140 billion euros to prevent full financial collapse - 140 billion euros the Treasury didn’t have. Britain would have to follow Hungary, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus and Spain in requesting a nationally humiliating bailout. EU Finance Ministers were summoned to Copenhagen to discuss a solution to the British problem.

Whilst Britain’s 140 billion euro bill wasn’t as large as the nearly 400 billion euros Brussels was pumping into Greece to keep it afloat, it would still represent the second biggest bailout in European history, nearly doubling previous silver medalist Portugal’s bill of 77 billion euros. Europe’s austerity “Troika” led by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Sarkozy would demand a heavy price for the Treasury’s salvation. After several days of negotiation the EU’s total bailout fund was negotiated down to 98 billion euros, with the other 40 billion coming from the private sector and the British finances. The European Council agreed the bailout would be a banks focused bailout, rather than a government focused bailout like those in Greece and Portugal.


Johnson had avoided a Greek-style capitulation

The bright-side of a “bank’s focused bailout” was that the EU would not demand harsh austerity like they had to Athens, Lisbon and Dublin. Instead, most of the strings attached to the bailout included reform of Britain’s banking sector, this included opening the City of London up to further international competition, and removing Junta-era “national security” restrictions on foreign companies buying British. These reforms would allow EU banks to buy shares in failing UK banks and generally bring the UK further in line with the European financial sector. Despite the British negotiating out of the worst austerity mandates, there were some public spending strings attached, most notably increasing Britain’s generous retirement age from 64 to 68, as well as a 23% cut to Britain’s unemployment payment, from 400 euros a month to 308 euros a month.

“Britain unveiled new austerity measures on Wednesday as Prime Minister Johnson yielded to EU pressure to avoid a full state bailout. The SDP leader announced cuts in unemployment benefits in a speech interrupted by jeers and boos from both benches. “These measures are not pleasant, but they are necessary. Our public spending exceeds our income by tens of billions of euros,” he told parliament. Anti-austerity protests in London turned violent with police firing rubber bullets at protesters. Thousands of demonstrators joined miners who had staged a long march in protest at cuts in mining subsidies. Analysts said the draconian savings plan showed Britain was already under de facto supervision from Brussels. This is despite the fact it has not requested a sovereign bailout and retains access to bond markets.”
- UK unveils new austerity under European pressure, Reuters (2012)

The bailouts were seen as a moderate success by the British delegation, they had received most of the money they needed to prevent a second recession, and had avoided the mass public sector restructuring that had befallen Greece. Chancellor Sugar especially was eager to sign. It wasn’t just Brussels putting pressure on the Johnson administration, over in Washington Treasury Secretary Gene Sperling welcomed the bailout as an “important step for the health of the British economy” and urged the government to sign up. Under a normal Parliament the measures would probably pass the Commons easily, but Johnson only had a majority of two, and his allies in the Alternative and RISE were on their last nerve.


The Outrage protests had only gotten bigger

With his political career dead in the water anyway, Johnson decided to take a death or glory approach to getting the bailout passed, knowing it would define his premiership. Aides described Johnson as a “man possessed” as he rang round his own MPs to ensure political backing for the bailout bill. Whilst he was able to use every last drop of political capital to beg, charm or threaten the SDP into backing the budget, when it came to his confidence and supply partners he hit a political wall. Meacher was outraged at the raising of the retirement age, and at the idea of the EU dictating how Britain could spend its money, already facing pressure from the Outraged protests and his fellow MPs, Meacher announced the Alternative would vote against the budget. Seeing the writing on the walls, the SNP and Plaid would also confirm their intentions to vote against.

National was in no mood to dig Johnson out of the mess he made, even after a desperate last minute negotiation for a national unity government, Hague refused to even see Johnson. His Press Secretary, Gabrielle Bertin, told journalists National would be voting against the bailout as Hague believed he could get a “better deal for Britain”. She called on Johnson to visit the Palace and request a snap election to move the political deadlock forward. The vote would go to Parliament, losing 286 votes to 205 votes in favour. The bailout was dead in the water, the fall of the government was likely to follow. Speaking outside Downing Street Johnson announced he had asked the SDP’s Executive Committee to call an Extraordinary Federal Congress to elect a new party leader, once this new leader was elected he would step aside and give them a chance to form a new government. Alan Johnson’s premiership was over.

“After the 2009 coup, I said I would do all that I could to ensure a strong, stable and principled government was formed, able to tackle Britain's challenges. I like to think I've done just that. Now my constitutional duty is to make sure that an economic collapse can be avoided following last today's vote. I have informed the President of the SDP that it is my intention to tender my resignation to the Party's Executive Committee. I wish the next prime minister well as they make the important choices for the future. Whoever is elected leader of my party can count on my full loyalty. I call on all true democrats to be proud of being part of our experiment, today more than ever. That is how I say goodbye, sure of the fact that it has been an honour to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.” - Alan Johnson’s Resignation Speech “2012”


Historians would debate Johnson's record for years to come
Finally, Alan can take a rest. From his troubled childhood, to turbulent years of activism against the junta and finally, becoming the highest officer of the great state. However, being PM of a country witnessing a transition out of a dark past, he faced great and sometimes, life-ending odds. But he persevered. But all things has to come to an end. It was a good seven years.
We thank you for your service and for allowing Britain to see beyond its past and towards the future.
That cut to unemployment benefit! Ouch. By sitting the the centre Johnson frittered away all the goodwill he had with the Left. Good riddance I say. If he hadn't been so afraid to take on the establishment he might of lasted longer. Bring on PASOK-ification.

Not that the National will be any better. I predict they court big business at all costs (something like taxing wind power to subsidise heating farmhouses would be about right), piss off Scotland, Wales and NI, upset the constitutional status quo somehow and then send armed police to restore normality.
LSE Lecture - Assessing the Premiership of Alan Johnson

Assessing the Premiership of Alan Johnson

Lecturer by Professor Toby James

The legislative record of Alan Johnson’s government has been buried under the avalanche of criticisms due to the economic crisis.

The fact that Johnson’s economic policies in 2010 moved from Keynesianism to cuts buried his reputation even deeper. Yet his dilemma was that of all social-democratic parties in power. Social-democracy can function in times of economic growth, as Johnson's first government did - but during economic crises, social-democratic governments can no longer deliver the social benefits on which their electoral base rests. It is no coincidence that only 4 or 5 social democratic governments have survived the crisis in Europe. Of those survivors, several are in power as a result of electoral cycles rather than electoral consolidation.

When assessing the Johnson Premiership we must of course assess his unique position as a transition politician. Transitions to democracy refer to specific historical processes of change to democracy. The phrase assumes democratisation was an open-ended process that could be closed through legislation. Yet it is a term that has been much abused. Nor is it a term that refers to any corpus of interpretation. It is more of a political claim than an interpretative or analytical category.

We must stress that Johnson's policies were marked by continuity with previous administrations. Though we can and should acknowledge Johnson’s efforts to promote a socially liberal agenda, his policies were characterised at best by incoherence and at worst by unrealised commitments.

Analysing Johnson's economic policy makes the bleakest assessment of them all. Johnson failed to address the core problems of the British economy such as low productivity and the loss of competitiveness. He saw EU accession as a silver bullet to Britain's economic woes, and was overly eager to conform to Brussels directives.

In terms of political assessment we must acknowledge the skill with which Johnson negotiated the complex business of minority government. Johnson should also be commended for maintaining a relatively stable peace with the mainstream SNLA. Peace in Scotland is even more surprising when you consider that no major devolution deal was passed during Johnson's premiership. Despite this, initiatives for provincial reform came peacefully from the periphery rather than the centre.

Johnson's foreign policy was marked by contradiction and by continuity with that of the Junta. Whilst he did oversee the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, he continued to support American adventurers abroad in Afghanistan and Libya. Britain remained a willing member of the US hegemony

Social legislation is the only area where claims of radical innovation can be made by the Johnson administration. The SDP were foremost among the European left in shifting from the old politics of redistribution, welfare and workers’ rights to new policies around the environment, gender parity, gay rights and multiculturalism. This transformation was driven more by the SDP leadership than by the effects of societal change. In terms of social legislation Johnson’s government can be a model for social-democracy elsewhere. However, the gains made by the SDP in the elections of 2009 among new social constituencies were dissipated by the effects of the economic crisis.

In conclusion, whilst the Johnson Governments can broadly be seen as a failure, there are some major successes to point to. From the legalisation of gay marriage, (one of the first Anglophone countries to do so) to the fastest EU accession on record, Johnson's policy achievements may outlast the economic crisis that destroyed him.

Seminar Question: Critically Assess the Premiership of Alan Johnson 2005-2012
2012 SDP Leadership Election, Part 1

Johnson privately supported David Miliband as his successor

“The next SDP leader to succeed Alan Johnson will be announced on the 27th of July at an Emergency Federal Congress. Since Johnson resigned after his defeat in the bailout vote SDP members have anticipated his replacement. The nomination deadline at 12pm on Monday revealed three candidates running for leadership: Andy Burnham, David Milband and Alan Sugar. After Mary Creagh dropped out on Friday, a mere few days before the closing date, it was a rush to the finishing line. Burnham was a last-minute entry after receiving Executive Committee nominations by the Amicus union. His left-wing economics, and criticism of Johnson's immigration policy have set him apart from other candidates. SDP members have been given just over a month to decide between the three candidates.”
- The SDP’s new leadership candidates, BBC News Bulletin (2012)

The SDP’s Emergency Federal Congress was set for the 27th of July, less than two months away from Johnson’s resignation, there was no time to waste. The party was under little illusions, whoever won this leadership election would be taking the party into a general election, the Socialist Alternative pact was unsalvageable. Thus the party was eager to avoid all out war and Executive Committee members were encouraged to be conservative with their nominations. Immediately both Justice Secretary David Miliband and Chancellor Alan Sugar declared their candidacy, and the party establishment began to pick sides. Deputy Prime Minister Rosie Boycott and Foreign Secretary Polly Toynbee both ruled themselves out of running, giving their support to Miliband. Meanwhile leading figures on the right of the party, such as Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell gave their support to Sugar.

Other possible contenders for the leadership such as Ed Balls, Clare Grenada and Sandi Toksvig would also rule themselves out. West Yorkshire MP Mary Creagh failed to get two Executive Committee Members to propose and second her, so dropped out early. The only person emerging to challenge Miliband and Sugar as an outsider was 41 year old Andy Burnham, a trade unionist who had only been promoted to the Cabinet a few weeks ago. Of the three candidates, Sugar was seen as the most right-wing running on a campaign of accepting the bailout, and ending any further cooperation with the Socialist Alternative. Miliband on the other hand, was the pragmatist Johnsonite candidate. Whilst he also supported the bailout deal, he said the SDP had to be open to working with all parties.


Sugar was the candidate for the Europhillic, pro-bailout wing of the party

Burnham had the most radical policy platform, running as a populist. He called for a stronger embrace of the trade unions, and renaming the SDP to the “People’s Party”. He coupled his left-wing economic position with more socially conservative attitudes, especially towards the EU, promising a block on any further transfer of powers to Brussels, and attacking his opponents for having “federalist” tendencies. Burnham also called on the party to have a “genuine conversation” around it’s immigration policy, seen as the harshest on immigration of the three candidates. Whilst supportive of an EU bailout, Burnham pledged to renegotiate the terms with the Troika.

“Andy Burnham will join the race to replace Alan Johnson, saying the SDP "have our fingers in our ears and our hands over our eyes" over immigration. Burnham added his voice to the emerging consensus that the SDP is failing to act on immigration. While he said he would "avoid disowning our past" on immigration, he said: "we have our fingers in our ears and our hands over our eyes. We don't want to talk about it. "For me the big task is for Social Democrats to reconnect with people who are feeling this. They need to feel that the Social Democrats understand what they are saying and then will take steps to address it." He extended his criticism to the party's inability to explain the rules on welfare and pensions.” - Andy Burnham joins SDP leadership race with immigration pledge, Allegra Stratton, The Guardian (2010)

Miliband would quickly emerge as the front-runner, gaining the backing of Cabinet big beasts such as Alistair Darling, Floella Benjamin, and both sides of the Balls/Cooper power couple. Whilst Johnson didn’t directly endorse a candidate, Miliband was generally seen as his preferred favourite. Miliband also got the backing of two out of the “big three” trade unions, being the AGO and GWNU, with Burnham receiving the backing of Amicus. Miliband was by far the most experienced, spending seven years in Cabinet, to Sugar’s three and Burnham’s zero. He was also telegenic and good on camera, having spent decades running PR for the British Democracy Foundation in Paris. Miliband also had the backing of over half of the SDP’s MPs at 110 official MP endorsements.


Burnham would fight an old fashioned social democratic campaign

Sugar ran a very well funded campaign, hiring high-flying strategists from the US to bulk out his staff team. He had more paid organisers than Miliband and Burnham put together. However Sugar had little base in the party to speak of. Whilst he had joined the SDP at its inception, he had never really been involved aside from an occasional donation until 2008. Many activists resented him being parachuted into the top and electoral list and then into the Treasury. His unwavering support for austerity had also made him no friends in the trade union movement, with not a single trade union giving their backing to Sugar’s campaign. Despite this Sugar’s pitch to members involved proclaiming himself as the most electable candidate, and the SDP leader William Hague “feared most”.

Of the three Burnham’s campaigns would see the most momentum. Going from a practical unknown outside of nerdy political circles, Burnham would launch barnstorming visits to Northern and Midland towns the SDP had lost during the local election. In one speech in Stoke - Burnham would promise not only to negotiate the terms of Britain’s bailout deal but to put the terms of the deal in a “People’s Vote”, a national referendum - giving the public the opportunity to refuse the bailout. Whilst this was condemned as “economic suicide” by pro-bailout MPs such as Ivan Lewis and David Howarth, it was especially popular with grassroots SDP members as Burnham’s climbed in the polls.

“A former Irish Labor SPAD who is now a Notting Hill resident makes for an unlikely working-class hero. But with the SDP desperate to reconnect with its roots, Andy Burnham is seen as a rare authentic voice from the party's heartland. Drinking cappuccino, the 41-year-old admits he is no longer working class. But as MP for Merseyside he is better placed to speak for the people bearing the brunt of cuts now that SDP's aspirational bubble has burst. He is unsurprised by our survey that only 28 per cent of people now consider themselves working class, saying a once "noble" bloc has been "demonised". From Shameless to Wife Swap, the working classes have become something to ridicule or fear as a "mob at the gate". - Andy Burnham: How the SDP lost its heart, Matt Chorley, The Independent (2012)


Midlands and Northern English towns had swung against the SDP at the locals
How is Irish Labour doing ATL? I've seen posts where Brian Cowen is still Taoiseach and we still got bailed out, but is Irish politics radically different after our nearest neighbour became a military junta? Is the Irish left stronger than OTL?
Interesting that two candidates of the right seem to have gathered the most nominations, and that Burnham seems to be a much more fully formed politician at this point in his career. His OTL campaigns for the Labour leadership were all over the place.
How is Irish Labour doing ATL? I've seen posts where Brian Cowen is still Taoiseach and we still got bailed out, but is Irish politics radically different after our nearest neighbour became a military junta? Is the Irish left stronger than OTL?
Irish Labour, and the Irish left generally are a lot stronger than OTL, a lot of British exiles would go on to work for Irish Labor, and it would grow in strength faster than OTL. Having a right-wing dictatorship over the border also helped grow support for the Irish left, especially Sinn Fein.

Irish Labour are the second largest party in Parliament with 42 seats. The Irish Government is currently a minority Fine Gael Government, supported by number of independents and occasionally Finna Fail in important votes.
Interesting that two candidates of the right seem to have gathered the most nominations, and that Burnham seems to be a much more fully formed politician at this point in his career. His OTL campaigns for the Labour leadership were all over the place.
Indeed, OTL Burnham's gone from Blairite, to Blue Labour, to Soft Left darling in the space of a decade. Generally I've try to combine his more socially authoritarian David Blunkett-esque views from his early career, with his more Communitarian soft left views from later in his career.