Could tactical nominations swing it for struggling candidates?

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Those Labour MPs and MEPs who want to nominate a leadership or deputy leadership candidate but haven’t done so need to get their papers in before 2.30pm. There are around 60 yet to submit their formal endorsements, which means Clive Lewis and Emily Thornberry could well reach the threshold. It is worth remembering, however, that people like backing a winner – the frontrunners could see their numbers go up even further – and there are always some who prefer not to choose at all. Thornberry is unlikely to benefit from a push for diversity, as there are already women through to the next stage, while Lewis is far behind on just four nominations including his own. As he told Sky News on Sunday: “Clearly I wish my mum could nominate me as well, that would be fantastic wouldn’t it? But it’s not quite in the rules.”

Keir Starmer, who is way ahead on 68 nominations, officially launched his campaign with a speech in Manchester on Saturday. Presumably with the need for trade union support firmly in mind, he set out his case at the birthplace of the TUC. Doreen Laurence introduced the leadership contender, who carefully walked a thin line between ‘continuity Corbyn’ and Corbynscepticism, saying: “We are not going to trash the last Labour government. But nor are we going to trash the last four years. Jeremy Corbyn made us the party of anti-austerity and he was right to do so.” He also talked about violin lessons with Fatboy Slim, the question of whether he was a young Trotskyist, Scottish independence, nationalisation of key industries and more with our reporter Elliot in an exclusive must-read interview.

Rebecca Long-Bailey has not yet launched with a speech – her event will take place this coming Saturday – but she did participate in a listening exercise in Newcastle-under-Lyme. She also appeared on Sophy Ridge’s Sunday show, emphasising the need for constitutional reform much like Clive Lewis has been doing (though she stopped short of calling for a referendum on the royal family). Long-Bailey penned an op-ed on Labour antisemitism for Jewish News and signed up to the Board of Deputies’ ten pledges – as most of the other candidates did. She, too, is having to walk a thin line: she cannot alienate her core voters, some of whom consider the antisemitism crisis to be partly motivated by Corbynscepticism, but needs to broaden her base a little, which up to a point explains the strong defence of Angela Rayner’s politics and their joint ticket. Momentum’s fresh endorsement of both candidates will be a huge help to that endeavour, even if Lewis does think the process was undemocratic.

There is another election underway, of course: the deputy leadership. Only two candidates have reached the nomination threshold so far, which currently produces an all-white ballot paper. It looks like Richard Burgon could make it to 22 today, but Dawn Butler and Rosena Allin-Khan are struggling. Richard Corbett MEP has written a piece to encourage colleagues to nominate the latter. Meanwhile, there is a grassroots push to get Butler – whose politics can be placed on the same point of the factional spectrum as those of Rayner – on the ballot paper. There will be serious concerns raised by members about how race may have played a role in the first stage of this contest if the shadow cabinet member is excluded.

Finally, the party has released its official hustings schedule – and it has already attracted criticism from members and leadership candidates. The timetable consists of seven events all taking place in big cities; Yorkshire, the South East, the East Midlands and the East of England do not feature. Starmer is submitting a complaint. In the Labour Party, nothing is ever easy.

  • Monday: MP/MEP nominations close (2.30pm)
  • Tuesday: Registered supporters window opens (5pm)
  • Wednesday: CLP/affiliate nominations open
  • Thursday: Registered supporters window closes (5pm)
  • Saturday: Fabian conference with Starmer and Nandy (10am-5pm) 
  • Saturday: Long-Bailey launches campaign with speech
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