Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey vowed at her launch speech on Friday evening to “makes sure our voters understand that socialism is aspiration”.
Identifying Labour’s key failure in the 2019 general election in light of the defeat last month, the contender said of the party offer: “We didn’t match that with a message of aspiration.”
Taking to the stage at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester after introductions by new MPs Zarah Sultana and Kim Johnson, Long-Bailey was greeted by chants of “Oh, Becky Long-Bailey”.
To a room filled with hundreds of attendees, the leadership hopeful joked: “We’re gonna have to find a new song, you know.”
Her speech – the first of her leadership campaign – focussed on her backstory and key policy priorities for the years ahead with a particular emphasis on a “democratic revolution” and constitutional change.
Talking about her current situation, Long-Bailey joked: “If someone had told me 30 years ago when I first came here that I’d be back in 2020, standing on a podium telling you all I was going to be leader of the party and the next Prime Minister, I’d have thought I’d stumbled out of the Hacienda having taken something.”
She talked about growing up in a working-class family, listening to her father “talk about pay disputes”, and also referred to a pawn shop before adding – “that’s P.A.W.N.”.
Setting out her priorities for government, the Shadow Business Secretary declared: “I want to sweep away the House of Lords.” She said its replacement would be subject to “proportional voting systems”, and later promised to “end the gentleman’s club of politics”.
Long-Bailey told the event she had “worked hard” to become successful, but added: “A lot of people did. They worked just as hard and were just as capable… If we’re honest, in our economy, a lot of it is down to luck.”
Turning to her central message of the night, and what is likely to become an important theme in her internal election campaign, the frontbencher said: “My kind of socialism is the kind where we all rise together… where we’re free to dream, free to climb and free to succeed.”
She identified “alternative models of ownership”, “fighting racism”, standing up for “LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality” and “rebalancing our economy so every town, city and region can thrive” as her chief aims.
Long-Bailey’s agenda would promote “pride rooted in solidarity, inclusivity, internationalism,” the leadership candidate told the audience in Manchester.
Earlier today, a Joe interview came out in which Long-Bailey answered a question on taking drugs with the reply: “Oooh. Well, I’ve been to Amsterdam, that’s all I’ll say.”
Asked by The Mirror whether she had “inhaled in Amsterdam”, the shadow cabinet member said she was there either for “my love of the flower markets or it was to partake in the local delicacies”.
The BBC’s Lewis Goodall asked Long-Bailey to deliver a message to Labour members on why they should vote for her over fellow frontrunner Keir Starmer. “I’m not from Westminster, I’m not from the London bubble,” she replied.
Returning to her core theme, Long-Bailey concluded: “If people want a leader who makes sure our voters understand that socialism is aspiration, then I’m the person they should be voting for.”