After the wide margin win for the Tories at the General Election, Labour is set for a long period in opposition. With the party potentially facing ten more years of Tory rule, the search for a new leader is a vital one – and also a long contest, with 11 weeks until the winners (of both Leader and Deputy Leader) are announced – on Grand National day of all the days writes William Kedjanyi.
Where we are: The remaining Labour leadership candidates are competing to win the support of local Labour groups and unions as they battle it out to make it into the next stage of the contest.
To get onto the final ballot candidates must win the nominations of 33 local constituency Labour parties or three Labour affiliates, including at least two trade unions.
That means without the backing of one of the major unions, a candidate will need to seal a raft of endorsements from local parties in order to stand a chance. Candidates who can secure the required support will be put to a ballot of party members, who will vote for the Leader and Deputy Leader positions between the 21st of February and the 2nd of April.
The winner of the contest is due to be announced at a special event on April 4.
Who’s In: Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy are already on the ballot. Emily Thornberry has just 5 CLP nominations at the moment, so is facing the hardest task of all, but many are left to declare still.
CLP Nominations Latest*: Keir Starmer 62, Rebecca Long-Bailey 28, Lisa Nandy 16, Emily Thornberry 5
*Latest being Thursday 30th January. So far, 111 CLPs have nominated candidates to be leader of the Labour Party.
State Of Play: Angela Rayner has received the support of more than five per cent of affiliates, including at least two trades unions. She has therefore qualified for the ballot. There’s still plenty of competition for others to get on, and these are the nominations they have so far:
Deputy leadership candidates
Rosena Allin-Khan (4)
Hornchurch and Upminster
Runnymede and Weybridge
Richard Burgon (10)
Richard Burgon has received the support of five per cent of affiliates or more, including at least two trades unions. He therefore has qualified for the ballot.
Birmingham Hodge Hill
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
Penrith and the Border
Uxbridge and South Ruislip
Unite the Union
Dawn Butler (16)
Bexhill and Battle
Chatham and Aylesford
Chesham and Amersham
Dulwich and West Norwood
Esher and Walton
Mid Dorset and Poole
Ian Murray (11)
Clackmannanshire and Dunblane
Mitcham and Morden
Sheffield South East
Labour Movement for Europe
Angela Rayner (70)
*Angela Rayner has received the support of more than 5 per cent of affiliates, including at least two trade unions and the backing of more than 5 per cent of CLPs. She has therefore qualified for the ballot.
Angela Rayner has been the favourite ever since the market went up and the Shadow Education Secretary’s campaign has got off to a flying start with a huge amount of nominations and perhaps, more crucially, the backing of Momentum after the group’s bosses have called on members to back Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner to take on the Labour leadership.
Whilst Corbyn is on his way out, the backing of him and the MP’s close to him still holds a big sway amongst the membership – Corbyn was recently voted the most popular Labour leader of the last century, even if a quarter of members didn’t know who Clement Attlee was – and that makes this race interesting given that Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon made it onto the ballot. Butler and Burgon, two of Corbyn’s biggest supporters and also key voices in policymaking (Butler especially) have major connections and respect within the membership and will provide Rayner with strong challenges from the left.
The fact that it took such a concerted effort to get Butler on the ballot whilst she racked up nominations could play badly with the membership, too, and over 11 weeks there will be pitfalls for even a favourite as strong as Rayner to avoid. It will be interesting to see where she falls regarding Open Selection, particularly if one of either Burgon or Butler were to call for it in the coming weeks.
Rayner still has an outstanding shot, but 1/33 surely overestimates her chances and it might not hurt to take a couple of small risk shots against her.
Sir Keir Starmer (who had to step off the campaign trail for a day or two due to a serious family incident) has leapt into the position of odds on favourite after a strong start, and much of the detailed polling we’ve seen has him winning at every stage. However, just 1/3 about his chances is an un-backable price. Starmer’s credentials are very strong and well known, although the length of the race doesn’t exactly play in his favour.
The race has thinned down, with two realistic contenders – according to the betting the the CLP’s – bar Starmer. Lisa Nandy has arguably made the most fluent argument about reconnecting with voters in towns who switched to the Conservatives in December, and there’s no doubting that her campaign has picked up some notable support so far, especially in the Union pickups.
Nandy’s policy depth has impressed many and gives her a chance of picking up supporters from all parts of the part, and the length of the contest favours her as the outsider of the three currently confirmed on the ballot. Another positive for her is a string of deeply impressive media performances – she was widely considered to be excellent on the Andrew Neil show, arguably the toughest assignment in British interviewing, and also on the Today programme and Peston.
The withdrawal of Jess Phillips (polled 11% with YouGov at the first pref stage) earlier, will boost numbers, but she could have done without her endorsement, which could easily be a kiss of death given how disliked she was by the large majority of the membership. Also, according to YouGov, only 25% of Phillips voters had Nandy as a first preference, so there is work to be done still, even if she has time to do it. It also remains to be seen what policy stances she will soften if her support grows a great deal – many of the signature policies of the race are still yet to be defined, and the past two years have thought us that any issue can suddenly take over the agenda.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Shadow Business Secretary, has drifted a bit in the market but her credentials in terms of creating many of the policies that proved to be most popular with the public (even if the leadership wasn’t) shouldn’t be underrated and as the most left-wing candidate in the eyes of many, she has a large base to work from. The endorsement of Open Selection – something that the left of the party has long wanted – but it should fire up Long-Bailey’s supporters and her campaign appears to be now getting into full stride after a slow-ish start.
It’s worth considering if she should be as big as 5/1 with Star compared to the 1/3 for Sir Keir Starmer given the makeup of the membership, especially given the makeup of the final field and the considerable resources of Momentum in the battle to be elected leader, and she is worth a small value bet.
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