Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves speaks at the Labour conference in 2014. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Another boost for Burnham as he wins Rachel Reeves's support

The Labour leadership frontrunner adds to his big tent of backers with the endorsement of the shadow work and pensions secretary. 

After the departure of Chuka Umunna from the Labour leadership race, Andy Burnham has moved quickly to cement his status as the frontrunner. Yesterday he announced a politically diverse group of supporters: shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher (who will manage his campaign), shadow justice secretary Charlie Falconer, shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith and shadow health minister Luciana Berger. On the Andrew Marr Show this morning, he revealed another significant backer: Rachel Reeves. The shadow work and pensions secretary was going to endorse her friend and fellow 2010er Umunna but his withdrawal has led her to endorse Burnham. His announcement that she will lead his campaign's economic work all but confirmed that the economist will become shadow chancellor if he wins. 

The support of so many of his colleagues is no guarantee of victory under Labour's new one-member-one-vote system (which means MPs' votes are no longer worth more than those of activists). But it has given Burnham crucial early momentum. Asked on the Marr Show whether he was "the union candidate" (he is set to win the backing of Unite), he replied: "I'm the unifying candidate". The ideological breadth of his supporters has helped to reinforce that message. The chaotic fallout from the election (in nine days Labour has lost its leader, its Scottish leader, its shadow chancellor, its shadow foreign secretary and a leadership candidate) means that members may well follow course and rally around Burnham as the safe choice. 

The shadow health secretary's main challenger is Liz Kendall, who is likely to attract many of Umunna's former supporters. The extended length of the contest (which concludes on 12 September) will allow her to raise her profile among members. But at a time when Labour has appeared incapable of running a whelk stall, her relative lack of experience (she was elected in 2010 and has not shadowed a secretary of state) may prove too great an obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Political video has come full circle in Obama and Clinton’s mockumentary-style films

Political campaign videos are increasingly mimicking the specific styles of filmmaking created to mock them.

This week, Hillary Clinton released a campaign video featuring Barack Obama, in an attempt to persuade her supporters to vote early. It revolved around Obama’s self-professed earliness. “I’m always early,” he tells us, cheerily. Aides chip in to explain this irritating habit, which becomes progressively more exaggerated, his approach to timing absurd. “You know how you beat LeBron James one-on-one? Get there 45 minutes early. Then it’s one-on-none.” A former staffer sighs. “You try telling the President of the United States there’s no such thing as a one-on-none.”

This is an instantly recognisable mockumentary style – deliberately shakey camerawork, complete with lots of zooming in and out, as absurd corporate behaviour is interspersed with incredulous talking heads and voiceover. It has its roots in the Office UK, taking the States by storm with The Office US, 30 Rock and Modern Family, and developing a political subgenre in The Thick of It, In the Loop and, most recently, Parks and Recreation. (Vague comparisons between Clinton and Poehler’s Leslie Knope abound.)

The content, too, seems familiar – a politician talks to camera about a personality quirk that is broadly a strength for someone in government, but exaggerates it to create a geeky, optimistic goofball, and a pretty likeable character. Take Leslie Knope on never smoking weed:

In terms of style and content, they’re fairly indistinguishable. And this not the only Clinton campaign video influenced by mockumentary and comedy tropes . In March, the Clinton campaigned released a “mean tweets” video with Senator Al Franken in the style of a Jimmy Kimmel Live talking head. Three days ago, a video campaign starring “Fake Lawyer” Josh Charles, an actor on The Good Wife, was released. It borrows heavily from mockumentary styles as well as self-mocking celebrity cameos in advertising. Even some non-comic videos, like this lighthearted one about Clinton’s granddaughter, have the exaggerated camerawork of the genre.

Of course, we can trace these campaign videos back to Obama again. His campaigns have always been heavily video based, and he’s taken the piss out of himself for Buzzfeed to promote campaigns. But the White House’s official channels are also in on the joke. In 2013, they released a mockumentary starring Steven Spielberg and 30 Rock’s Tracey Morgan, in which Obama plays Daniel Day Lewis playing Obama.

Earlier this year, the channel released another mini mockumentary, featuring Obama preparing for the end of his time as president. (The film even ridicules a less self-aware style of video – Obama posts a misjudged Snapchat about Obamacare, and asks “Did it get a lot of views at least?”)

A politician whose ideal evening consists of children’s movie marathons with colleagues? Where have we seen that before? Yes, political video has come full circle. Personally, I’m waiting on the Hillary Clinton break dancing clip

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.