Labour Leadership Race

Labour Leadership Race

Nominations for the Labour Leadership and Deputy Leadership Elections have now closed with five candidates for each securing the support of 22 MP/MEP colleagues required. Below, Portland’s Corporate team outline everything you need to know about the runners and riders.

Coming after its worst General Election defeat since 1935, these elections are an opportunity to see what direction the party thinks it should take now. The contest began formally last week and will end with the announcement at a special conference on Saturday 4th April.

Leadership candidates

Keir Starmer

  • The early frontrunner and first to hit the number of nominations needed to go through to the next round. He also has the backing of Britain’s biggest trade union, UNISON.
  • Keir’s campaign has so far been careful to play up his left-wing credentials, putting out a slick video highlighting the work he has done in his former profession as a lawyer to stand up to powerful businesses and institutions on behalf of others.
  • In his role as Shadow Brexit Secretary he attempted to appease both sides of the Brexit argument. Can he unite the party if he has to spend the next three months arguing with all of its different factions?

Rebecca Long-Bailey

  • Pushed as the preferred candidate in influential left-wing grassroots movement Momentum’s ballot this weekend, co-founder Jon Lansman is her campaign director and she will likely receive the backing of Unite the Union later this month. Despite her protestations to the contrary, the Shadow Business Secretary is acknowledged as the Corbynite ‘continuity candidate’.
  • Long-Bailey was instrumental in the Green New Deal proposals that were at the centre of the party’s election manifesto and has said that she would score Jeremy Corbyn 10/10 for his time in charge.
  • It will be interesting to see if calls that it’s time for a ‘woman from the North’ are heard by those voting in the contest, and if this works in her favour.

Lisa Nandy

  • Seen as on the soft-left of the party, Current backbencher Nandy served in Ed Miliband’s shadow ministerial team and has long been considered as a potential candidate for Labour leader.
  • Reported to have impressed at the parliamentary hustings with her impassioned call that the party must change course or it will ‘deserve to’ die. Her stated goal is to rebuild the ‘red bridge’ between the country’s towns and cities.
  • It will be interesting to see how well her pitch goes down with the membership, a strong showing in the election could guarantee her a future Shadow Cabinet role at the very least.

Jess Phillips

  • The Backbench MP for Birmingham Yardley has been critical of the Corbynite project in the past.
  • After a wobble on what she would do on Brexit, where the suggestion that under her leadership Labour could campaign to re-join the EU was quickly corrected, Phillips has set out that she will be standing on a platform of social care reform, universal childcare and a Green New Deal.
  • Can Phillips attract enough new members and registered supporters to the Party to boost her chances in the contest?

Emily Thornberry

  • Member of Parliament for Islington South and Finsbury since 2005 and served in the shadow ministerial teams of Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn, making her the candidate with the most parliamentary experience of the five.
  • As Shadow Foreign Secretary she has already faced Boris Johnson at the despatch box many times.
  • The slowest to receive to amount of nominations needed to proceed to the next stage, can Thornberry convince enough affiliates and local parties to keep her in the contest?

Deputy Leader candidates

Angela Rayner

  • The clear favourite for Deputy has drawn questions as to why she is not standing to be leader herself like her flatmate Long-Bailey. Seen as inside the Corbyn tent but not an unquestioning devotee, she was recommended for the Deputy position in Momentum’s ballot this weekend.

Ian Murray

  • Now Labour’s only remaining Scottish MP, Murray has been a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership placing the blame for the party’s General Election result firmly at his feet.
  • He dismisses claims he’s a Blairite, citing John Smith as his political hero. Wants Labour to become a “credible alternative government of the future, not a protest movement of the past”.

Dawn Butler

  • The Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities is one of Corbyn’s closet allies, including in his weekly PMQs prep, and was one of Labour’s key campaigners in the General Election.
  • Before becoming an MP, she worked for the GMB union and was an advisor to Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London.

Rosena Allin-Khan

  • Shadow Minister for Sport and successor to Sadiq Khan’s Tooting seat when he became Mayor of London.
  • Allin-Khan is a qualified A&E doctor who still works shifts in her local hospital. She is seen as a moderate in the party and says she will use her experience as a doctor to listen to and diagnose Labour’s problems.

Richard Burgon

  • Steadfastly loyal to the Corbyn project, Burgon was rewarded with John McDonnell’s nomination. However, he did not receive Momentum’s backing in their ballot this weekend which will have an impact when it comes to seeking local party nominations in the next stage.
  • Has set out that he wants to be a ‘campaigning’ Deputy Leader, inspired by John Prescott’s time in the role.

How can Portland help?

With many now wondering what a new Labour leader will mean for the party, Portland are available to support you in your planning and analysis.

Our Public Affairs experts are available to brief your organisation’s leadership on the leadership content, individuals involved and the impact of different scenarios for you. Our team includes our newest recruit former Head of Policy Development at the Labour Party Anouska Gregorek, former Labour adviser and commentator Ayesha Hazarika and former Director of Communications to Tony Blair Alastair Campbell.

Do get in touch with the team to schedule a briefing session.

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