Labour’s leadership hopefuls must write two victory speeches they may well never deliver

The harsh timing of the NEC’s announcement.

Spare a thought for the Labour leadership contenders. Not only are they having to endure some 56 hustings in total over this long summer (while they compete with a brand new coalition government for media attention) but, a source in one camp has just told me, they face another ordeal altogether.

Voting takes place across the different elements of the party and its affiliated bodies between 16 August and 22 September, with the result announced by the party's National Executive Committee on 25 September at the Labour Party's annual conference. The timing means that any candidate who seriously thinks he or she may win must prepare two speeches -- acceptance and address to the conference as leader -- that they may not get to deliver. Ouch.

Says my source: "It was OK in the old days, when the party would just tip off the new leader in advance, but there is no way the NEC will do that now."

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