Momentum back Long-Bailey and Rayner after member ballot

Elliot Chappell

Momentum has officially endorsed Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner for Labour’s leadership roles after a ballot of its members.

The activist network, which grew out of Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 leadership campaign, backed the candidates after a vote that took place in 48 hours between Tuesday and Thursday.

70% of Momentum members who chose to vote in the poll supported a recommendation to endorse Long-Bailey, while an endorsement of Rayner was backed by just 52% of respondents.

7,395 people – out of around 40,000 Momentum members, who were all eligible to vote – responded to the survey, which consisted of two questions demanding ‘yes’/’no’ answers:

  • Should Momentum follow the NCG recommendation to endorse Rebecca Long-Bailey as the next leader of the Labour Party?”;
  • “Should Momentum follow the NCG recommendation to endorse Angela Rayner as the next deputy leader of the Labour Party?”

Momentum received criticism when its ruling body – chaired by Jon Lansman, who is Long-Bailey’s campaign director – agreed that they would only ballot members on their recommendation rather than offering a full choice of candidates.

There had been calls to put all of the contenders for both positions to the membership – including from leadership candidate Clive Lewis who had not been knocked out of the race at that time.

The national coordinating group (NCG) voted in favour of endorsing Long-Bailey and Rayner, despite Rayner being seen as ‘soft left’ in the party.

13 of the group backed her for deputy while six supported Richard Burgon, who is often considered to be further left than the MP for Ashton-Under-Lyne.

This endorsement comes as all candidates attempt to secure either 5% of local parties – a total of 33 – or three affiliated organisations, including two trade unions, adding up to 5% of the affiliated membership.

Momentum has said that it plans to organise hundreds of phone banks across the country to call Labour members to canvass support for the candidates.

Both Long-Bailey and Rayner are expected to make it through this round of the process without much difficulty. Rayner already has the backing of UNISON, and Long-Bailey is widely expected to win Unite’s support although that has not yet been decided.

A poll by LabourList released on Wednesday showed both of the frontbenchers doing well – Long-Bailey came top in the leader race with 42% of first preferences, while Rayner won outright with 60% for deputy.

Commenting on the endorsement, a Momentum spokesperson said: “Our membership has spoken and overwhelmingly backed Rebecca Long-Bailey to be the next leader of the Labour Party and the next Prime Minister of the UK. We will now be mobilising thousands to persuade Labour members in the coming months.”

“Rebecca is at the heart of a new and diverse generation of socialists who recognise that we cannot return to the politics of the past. She has spent the last few years pioneering the policies of the future, including a detailed plan for a Green New Deal that can revive communities that have been ignored, bring the country together and lead the world in combating the climate crisis.”

“She is an experienced, principled and inspiring candidate and our movement is proud to support her for leadership.”

Long-Bailey herself added: “Momentum members alongside hundreds of thousands of other Labour members worked day and night across the country to elect a Labour government last December, knocking on millions of doors.”

“I am proud and beyond grateful to be backed by an organisation that has revolutionised how we campaign. I will deliver on the trust Momentum members have placed in me, with a plan to win the next general election and transform our country for the future.”

The MP for Salford and Eccles is due to officially launch her leadership campaign with a speech in Manchester on Friday evening. A party hustings will be held in Liverpool on Saturday.

In response to the Momentum endorsement, Angela Rayner said: “I’m delighted that Momentum members have today endorsed two strong socialist candidates to be the next leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party.

“Momentum is one of the most innovative and exciting forces within the Labour Party and over the past five years has helped to rebuild our movement and create the largest political party in western Europe.

“As deputy leader, I will ensure we harness the full energy and activism of grassroots organisations like Momentum as we fight to win people’s trust and see our policies put into action in government.”

Rayner was also recommended by TSSA alongside Rosena Allin-Khan, and nominated by the National Union of Mineworkers for the deputy post on Wednesday.

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