But after careful thought over the last couple of weeks since I decided to reluctantly back Alan Johnson, I have decided to change my mind...
I have always thought that the best people in the Labour party are those who have come from a background with aspirational Tory (preferably working class) parents. These are the people (Ken Livingstone, Tony Blair (although Blair was not working class)) who seem most able to unite the country, see both sides of the argument and also be the most competent, so my first instincts were towards selecting Alan Johnson.
But Alan's campaign has been surprisingly lacklustre - his website is vacuous and his campaign is overly based on personality. He backs proportional representation but is too timid to mention it and on every issue seems more concerned about rocking the boat than making any strong commitments - maybe this is a tactic - maybe this is even wise so as to maximise impact behind the scenes - or maybe it is just a sign of a lack of backbone - but whatever, it has managed to put me off voting for Johnson (along with Blears backing him as her second choice). Saying all that, the backing Alan has at the Parliamentary party (backing of most MPs) and at Union level (with the backing of the biggest union - Unison) still makes him favourite to win (plus he has the crucial backing of the Daily Mirror and even The Sun).
Then there is Jon Cruddas - who has ran a strong campaign and won a lot of support on the blogosphere - but as we all know, the views of the blogosphere rarely reflects what is going to happen amongst a much older, less privileged group of electors. Also the parliamentary party and the Union vote might easily outweigh his support amongst the members.
What has put me off Jon is this report on where he sends his son (religious selective school) and details on his second property allowance, and these non-answers to the humanist group - if you are going to try and pretend a left-wing stance and a higher level of principles then you need to be squeaky clean. Also although some people see it as a strength that he is not contesting the deputy PM role (look at the power the ODPM gave Prescott - particularly his role in promoting brown site redevelopment)- I have always saw this decision as a weakness considering he says he wants to get more social houses built the ODPM would give him more influence. Giving up this influential role must weaken his influence over policy and with the PM. Limiting yourself to just party re-organisation is most definitely a weakness in my eyes even if you manage to do a good job of strengthening the party - which I doubt he will but at least he does seem to have the most detailed policies outlined.
Then there is Peter Hain with an impressive record behind him - some have said that this is just history and he is now a spent force - but I disagree with that assessment. Peter Hain came second on the humanist group questions and supports the Alternative Vote (though not PR) so coupled with his equality stuff (he really emphasises inequality as a problem) his heart is in the right place.
I was initially very put off Harriet Harman because she is heavily backed by Gordon Brown and because of the situation with her choice of kid's school, but her support for assisted dying and her winning the backing of Polly Toynbee plus her support from Amnesty International have pulled her back into the frame.
Hazel Blears has been described here as Thatcherite. While she is undoubtedly the most right wing candidate I wouldn't go that far - she is however irritating although she does apparently come across well face to face. Her comments on immigrants are disgraceful and this keeps her firmly in last place on my list.
Hillary Benn is a curious character - I like his work in international development but his religion and his categorical refusal to consider PR are an insurmountable problem. I also am not a fan of political dynasties which I think can mean an easier path for people into office and this can affect their judgement.
Overall, all the candidates have positives and negatives and I am not sure which ones to choose if I am honest - it is confusingly close (except for Blears).
Anyway after much deliberation...
Some of this is tactical - I have boosted Harman and Hain perhaps more than they deserve as I think Johnson will probably win anyway - but lets see. I have put Cruddas above Johnson because at least Jon outlines what he wants to do.
After seeing last night's question time - not convinced this ordering is too wrong.
Finally just to re-iterate, make sure you rank all the candidates to prevent Blears slipping through. It is imperative that Blears doesn't win.