Backing me, backing you – local parties begin to nominate for leader and deputy

Nine local parties have already nominated their preferred candidates for leader and deputy. As it stands, Keir Starmer has the backing of six CLPs, while Rebecca Long-Bailey has won in three. In the deputy contest, Angela Rayner is on five while Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler and Ian Murray have received one each. Among the results last night, Warley in the West Midlands went to Long-Bailey – this might come as a surprise to some, as it is the backyard of Labour First director John Spellar and they nominated Yvette Cooper in 2015. But the result reflects the fact that supporters of Salma Yaqoob have been organising in that seat recently, as evidenced in October when the left slate won executive posts at its AGM.

Labour has revealed that in the 48-hour window for people to register as party supporters – and get a vote in the leadership contests – only 14,700 have done so, compared to the 180,000 that signed up in 2015. This is good news for Long-Bailey and Burgon, generally considered as the most popular among a largely pro-Corbyn membership. Other candidates, meanwhile, will have been hoping for a surge in Corbynsceptic voters entering the selectorate and will be disappointed with the figure. But the significance shouldn’t be overstated – the final number of new members is yet to be revealed and people can still join the party and get a vote until January 20th, unlike in previous leadership contests.

Long-Bailey’s campaign has been fielding questions about a comment she made during the 2019 general election campaign: in an interview with representatives from Salford’s Catholic cathedral dug up by the Corbynsceptic Red Roar website, the candidate appeared to suggest that she disagreed with allowing abortions after the standard 24-week limit on the grounds of disability. She stressed that this is a personal view, and her campaign has since stated that she “unequivocally supports a woman’s right to choose”. They’ve also highlighted her voting record in parliament, including her recent vote to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland.

Long-Bailey and Rayner yesterday received the endorsement of Corbynite group Momentum. 7,395 out of the 40,000-strong membership responded to an online survey to answer ‘yes/no’ on recommendations made by its ruling body to back the pair. While the decision to endorse Long-Bailey was supported by 70% of those who voted, respondents were less emphatic in response to Rayner who received the backing of only 52%. Despite those much-debated mandates, both candidates will now receive huge financial and organisation support from Momentum – and that could make all the difference in the close leadership race.

Rayner’s campaign will nonetheless be feeling pretty confident as she also received the support of the NUM yesterday – given that UNISON has already nominated her, she now only needs support from one more affiliated organisation. And she will also feature on a ballot to TSSA members next week, which gives a choice of either Rayner or Rosena Allin-Khan for deputy, and Starmer or Long-Bailey for leader. TSSA was one of the earliest unions to back Jeremy Corbyn in 2015, and provided his campaign with office space; Long-Bailey will have been hoping for its outright support.

Members can look forward to a busy weekend: both Long-Bailey and Emily Thornberry will officially launch their leadership campaigns this evening; Liverpool metro-mayor Steve Rotheram is kicking-off his re-election campaign; the Fabian conference takes place tomorrow, with Starmer and London mayor Sadiq Khan both making appearances; and all the leadership hopefuls will head to Liverpool tomorrow at 11.30am to take part in the first hustings event. Sienna and I will be covering the lot, so keep your eyes peeled for updates on LabourList.

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