Norwich South’s anti-Brexit representative Clive Lewis has become the second MP, after Emily Thornberry, to confirm unequivocally a bid for the Labour leadership.
Lewis has set out his pitch to party members via a Guardian comment piece that promises further democratisation of the Labour Party as well as electoral reform.
His article reads: “Labour should have committed itself to changing the voting system decades ago, and we have condemned some parts of our country to 40 years of decline by failing to do so.”
Lewis, who is considered to be on the Labour left, recently wrote a piece for LabourList advocating constitutional reform, including the use of citizens’ assemblies and a move towards proportional representation.
“My view is that we should move to a system of proportional representation (PR), meaning the share of seats a party wins matches their share of the vote – and therefore that all votes count equally,” the opposition frontbencher wrote.
“When you look across Europe and the wider world, this is exactly the model used by the most equal and compassionate societies. PR isn’t a panacea, but it makes callous ‘majority’ government on a minority of the vote impossible – and it gives people far more power over who will speak for them in parliament.”
Lewis has also argued today that Labour’s devastating electoral defeat is partly down to ‘heartland’ seat voters not being persuaded that the party had broken with the New Labour era. Candidates had “the legacy of the 2000s thrown back in our faces”, he wrote.
The shadow Treasury minister concluded: “I don’t want to beat the other candidates; I want to learn from them and with them.” He stated that his intention was to create “the biggest conversation possible”.
Lewis, who became an MP in 2015, first worked as a BBC reporter before serving as a British army officer and undertaking a three-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. He quit the shadow cabinet in 2017 over triggering Article 50.
The MP has already been backed by fellow shadow minister Rachael Maskell. Both are members of the pro-EU ‘Love Socialism’ campaign group in parliament, which had a weekly LabourList column before the election.
Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, was the first potential candidate to declare a definite intention to run. It is not certain that either Lewis or Thornberry will be able to reach the required nominations threshold that would put them on the ballot paper.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Keir Starmer and Jess Phillips are expected to declare their own bids soon. David Lammy is also considering a run at the top role, and Yvette Cooper has said she is thinking about it but she is thought unlikely to ultimately declare.