Momentum set to ballot members – but recommend Long-Bailey and Rayner

Sienna Rodgers

Corbynite organisation Momentum has decided to ballot its members while recommending Rebecca Long-Bailey as Labour’s next leader and Angela Rayner as deputy leader at a key meeting today.

Members of Momentum’s national coordinating group met to decide whether and how to endorse leadership candidates – and chose to back the unofficial ‘joint ticket’ agreed between shadow cabinet members Long-Bailey and Rayner.

Although Rayner is seen as ‘soft left’ in the party, 13 NCG members voted in favour of endorsing her, while just six chose Richard Burgon – who is often considered to be further left – and one picked Dawn Butler, according to LabourList sources.

But there had been strong calls for Momentum to ballot its whole membership before directly endorsing any candidates – as leadership contender Clive Lewis urged in a letter to NCG members on Saturday morning.

The ruling body ultimately chose to hold a vote in the meeting and then go ahead with endorsing their preferred candidates, though they also developed a plan to ballot Momentum members.

The online ballot consisting of two questions will be sent to members on Monday or Tuesday. The poll will be open for 48 hours. The wording has not been confirmed, but LabourList understands that the questions will be ‘yes/no’ on the NCG recommendations.

NCG member Jon Lansman, who is chair and co-founder of Momentum, has also been appointed as director of Long-Bailey’s leadership campaign.

Commenting on the decisions made today, a Momentum spokesperson said: “We need a new generation of left wing MPs to lead our party and build on Labour’s popular policy agenda.

“Our coordinating group believe Rebecca Long-Bailey is the only viable candidate who will build on Labour’s vision for the future, deepen democracy in the party and unite all of our heartlands at the next election.

“We also need a leadership team who trust each other, work well together and will lead a united front against the Tories, and that’s why we’ve our coordinating group have recommended support for Angela Rayner.

“While it’s important left candidates get the support they need, this is a huge decision and that’s why we’re balloting our members.

“This leadership election will decide the future of our party, and we are planning a huge, people-powered campaign to make sure Labour is led by a new generation of left wing MPs.”

A source present at the meeting added: “Today’s vote demonstrated an overwhelming appetite for a team of Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner.

“In addition to unanimously endorsing Becky to be the next Leader of the Labour Party, almost 70% of those present backed Angela as Deputy Leader.

“Those that voted today recognised that Becky and Angela are both socialists who can help us win again where Labour has lost, and that a unifying ticket is the most powerful way to do that.

“Momentum’s national coordinating group sent a clear message that it’s time for the next generation to assert themselves with a serious plan to win power in the country.”

The move comes after Long-Bailey wrote to senior Momentum figures asking them to back Rayner over Burgon in Labour’s deputy leadership race, according to a Guardian report.

On Friday evening, Long-Bailey tweeted: “Just catching up on another bizarre news theme of the day (there’s too many to keep track of these days). Is @AngelaRayner left, right, centre of the party? She’s a socialist superstar is what she is and that’s why I want her to be my deputy leader”.

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