We’re back! And just in time – it’s all kicking off. Five leadership candidates have officially declared: Keir Starmer, who wrote for LabourList before the Christmas break and formalised a bid with a video last week; Emily Thornberry, who has also written for LabourList offering firm commitments on staffing and disciplinary matters; Clive Lewis, who put electoral reform and internal democratisation at the heart of his pitch; Lisa Nandy, who launched in her local paper with a focus on towns and devolution; Jess Phillips, the most strongly Corbynsceptic candidate, who is promising to “speak truth” and also put out a video. Several gave interviews on the Sunday shows, which put some meat on the bones of their respective campaigns – you can catch up on what they said here.
Starmer is in the lead at this early stage of the campaign according to polling, though everything could change very quickly. Rebecca Long-Bailey penned a Guardian piece but has been quiet and not confirmed her bid despite the expectation that the contest will start formally tomorrow. LabourList’s understanding is that she is still going to stand but was simply not prepared as others have been – in terms of staffing, for example. That is not a huge problem for her campaign because she will likely secure required nominations with ease compared to other contenders, but it has allowed Starmer to pitch himself to the membership as a candidate of the left without a proper Corbynite in the way. The factional dynamics of this race should change soon.
Angela Rayner will deliver a speech in Stockport later this morning on the future of the Labour Party. It would be fair to assume that this is how she will announce her candidacy for the deputy leadership election, presumably endorsing Long-Bailey for leader at the same time. The education spokesperson is thought to be a sure winner – who is well-placed to secure a bigger mandate than the one gained by the next leader – but she has competition. Labour’s only Scottish MP Ian Murray is expected to declare shortly, and he will likely be the most openly anti-Corbyn of the candidates. Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum there may be Rosena Allin-Khan, who has visited now-blue Grimsby in a key sign that she’s running. On the left, Richard Burgon has announced his bid and been backed by Laura Pidcock. He is supporting Long-Bailey for leader and addressed the No War on Iran protest over the weekend.
Labour’s national executive committee is meeting from 12pm to agree the rules by which these leadership contests will be governed. We already know that candidates need nominations from 10% of Labour MPs and MEPs (22 including themselves) plus either 5% of local parties (33) or 5% of affiliated members (including two trade unions) to get on the ballot paper. The most important outcome of this meeting is that NEC members will set the timetable and the length of nomination periods. Long-Bailey and Starmer can probably pass those thresholds easily, but others will struggle and want more time. Any period shorter than four weeks for CLP and affiliate nominations will disadvantage some candidates and lead to accusations of a stitch-up.The other detail to be decided is the fee paid by registered supporters and the window of opportunity that they will have for signing up. Alice Perry’s piece on this topic is a must-read.
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