Latest from Ben Gummer

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Elections are exhausting for all of us but for those who lose there is not the adrenalin rush we victorious received to take you through the low weeks after defeat. On top of that, MPs and activists must now elect a new leader, in a contest that is becoming more unpredictable and bad-tempered as it proceeds.

I do not look at this farce with any pleasure. I know three of the candidates reasonably well. Liz Kendall is the same 2010 intake as me and I have always found her to be intelligent, witty and committed. A few years back I had dinner with her front-bench colleague, Andy Burnham, with other Cambridge graduates, in the House of Commons. I liked him then and have done since; now we face each other across the despatch box we do so from a position of mutual respect.

Of all of them, however, the one I know best is Jeremy Corbyn, with whom I served for some time on the Justice Select Committee. When Jeremy joined I worried that this famous stalwart of the left would make unbalance our happy committee but I was proved wrong: he always listened intently to my arguments and was unfailingly collegiate. Even though I disagree with him about almost everything, we debated things openly and I enjoyed his company on our unglamorous trips.

I do not think that one of the candidates is strong enough to be Prime Minister but none of them deserve the contest in which they are now embroiled. The insults and invective that have been directed especially towards Liz have made this an ugly demonstration of democracy; and this is just from Labour Party activists!

Yet the worst of it is this. Whoever wins, it is clear that the Labour Party has now moved away from the centre. Labour members, in their vitriol and in their support for someone who is republican and a sympathizer of Communist and extremist organizations elsewhere in the world, have shown their true colours. I disagree with the Labour Party on much but I want to respect them; that is far harder now, given what they are saying about themselves.

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