Labour’s deputy leadership election – runners and riders

Labour isn’t only electing its next leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn – there is also a vacancy for the deputy leader post as Tom Watson stepped down from the role and as an MP at the general election last month.

The contest began officially today, with Labour MPs and and there are six figures who have put themselves forward for the job. They first need the support of 10% of the parliamentary parties – 22, including themselves.

The ruling body of the Labour Party met on Monday to set out the rules and full timetable for both the deputy and leadership selection processes, which will conclude on April 4th.

Here are the Labour MPs who have officially announced their candidacy. Conor McGinn is now confirmed as being out of the running, and it is unlikely that any others will declare bids at this stage.


Angela Rayner

Following initial speculation that she might stand to be the next Labour leader, Rayner announced on Monday that she would be running for the deputy job. She’s been backed by her friend and flatmate, Rebecca Long-Bailey, who has confirmed that she is running for the leadership.

Rayner took a moment in her launch speech to repay the favour and endorsed Long-Bailey for leader. The Shadow Education Secretary started her campaign in Stockport, where she gave a stark warning about the future of the Labour Party, saying the choice facing Labour is to “win or die”.

She has long been considered the frontrunner, despite having only just declared. She is in a strong position with the backing of the main Corbynite candidate for leader, combined with a broad-based support more generally in the labour movement.

At her launch, she said: “I don’t consider myself to be of one political persuasion or another. I’m not a Blairite, I’m not a Corbynite, I’m not a Brownite.” She is certainly on her way to securing more MP/MEP nominations than any other deputy leadership candidate, and as a UNISON MP should easily pass the next stage of the process too.

Rayner nominated Andy Burnham in the 2015 Labour leadership election process, but backed Jeremy Corbyn against Owen Smith in the 2016 contest. She has served as Labour’s shadow education spokesperson since 2016 and led the development of the key National Education Service policy.


Dawn Butler

Known for her barnstorming speeches, during which she often likes to sing Something Inside So Strong, Butler somewhat controversially announced that she would be standing for the deputy leadership position during the general election campaign. She confirmed her intention by posting the hashtag #DawnforDeputy last month.

Butler nominated Corbyn in 2015. She was appointed shadow minister for diverse communities in October 2016 but resigned from the role to vote against triggering Article 50 in 2017. The Brent MP was then brought back into the cabinet when she became the shadow equalities minister later the same year.

She is close to the leadership and could do well, with a strong record on standing up for BAME and LGBTQ communities. But she has been fairly quiet since deciding to run. She tweeted on Tuesday morning telling members to “join me”, adding “let’s prepare for power”. But she has yet to share anything else on what she’d do in the role. Given that the process started today, we assume that further detail is on its way – watch this space.


Richard Burgon

The Shadow Justice Secretary declared that he would be standing for deputy on New Year’s Eve. The MP for Leeds East tweeted and shared a Tribune article giving his thoughts on why Labour lost last month.

In the piece, Burgon highlighted that 50 of the 60 seats lost were Leave-voting constituencies and said that “this became the Brexit election that Boris Johnson wanted”. He added: “Change is going to be needed, but we need to ensure we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

He reiterated this position in a letter to Labour colleagues on Tuesday morning, in which he said that Labour should not abandon the policy positions of the past manifestos – and instead adopt better messaging.

Seen as the most Corbynite contender in the deputy leadership race, Burgon is in the slightly awkward position of having endorsed Long-Bailey for leader – who has in turn backed Rayner. He is the secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group in parliament, of which Long-Bailey is also a member.

Burgon has been a key ally of Corbyn’s throughout his leadership and nominated the Islington North MP for leader in 2015. He has received the endorsement of John McDonnell in his deputy leadership bid.


Khalid Mahmood

Mahmood has been the MP for Birmingham Perry Barr since 2001, and a shadow Europe minister since 2016. He announced his candidacy shortly after the general election on December 12th.

He served as a parliamentary private secretary to Tony McNulty for a year from 2005 but resigned along with several other MPs calling for the resignation of Tony Blair as Prime Minister. He is an outsider in the race, with little name recognition.


Ian Murray

Labour’s only remaining Scottish MP has today thrown his hat in the ring. Writing in the Daily Mirror, Murray said Labour “must change” in order to become a “credible alternative government of the future, not a protest movement of the past”.

The avowed Corbynsceptic has been an MP since 2010 and initially served in the shadow cabinet as Secretary of State for Scotland. However, he resigned in 2016 – and has been one of the most vocal critics of Corbyn’s leadership.

Shortly after the exit poll came out, Murray took to social media to place the blame the election result squarely on Corbyn. He said the result was down to “not Brexit but Corbyn”, adding: “I’ve been saying this for years.”


Rosena Allin-Khan

The MP for Tooting also declared her candidacy on Tuesday morning. Launching her bid, she tweeted a video in which she explained her reasons for standing to be the next deputy leader.

The south Londoner has been an MP since a by-election in 2016 saw her replace the current mayor, Sadiq Khan. She has served as the shadow minister for sport since October that year.

She is an interesting candidate: new to the parliamentary Labour party, an amateur boxer and a good media performer, who still works night and weekend shifts as a doctor.

As a less than high-profile candidate, she will be unlikely to win, but this exercise will help boost her profile. And if her Love Actually-inspired general election campaign video is anything to go by, her campaign should be an innovative one.

More from LabourList