Deputy race heats up as Rayner says Corbyn “didn’t command respect”

Sienna Rodgers
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Angela Rayner has come under fire from supporters of Jeremy Corbyn on social media after saying the outgoing leader – unlike herself – “didn’t command respect” and “therefore wasn’t able to command that collectivism in the Labour Party”. The deputy leadership candidate, who is the clear frontrunner in the race, also claimed to be “more bombastic, more focussed and more sharp” than Corbyn, and able to “resonate with people in the country in a way that Jeremy doesn’t”. It is certainly true that Rayner is known to have a no-nonsense attitude, and a staffer recently described her to me as “bloody scary” – not a negative comment, but one made out of respect and admiration.

It is fair to say, however, that the main reason for which the Ashton-under-Lyne MP commands respect across the parliamentary party is that she comes from a different political standpoint to Corbyn. This was summed up when Rayner told ITV in the same interview that he has “a more international view of things, whereas I’m more pragmatic”. Rival candidate Richard Burgon, outflanking her from the left, tweeted a reaction that strongly defended Corbyn. And this is not only the criticism he has made of the frontrunner – find out more in our interview with Burgon that will soon be up on LabourList… In the meantime, it’s also worth watching Rayner’s interview in full as she talks with her mother about being a young carer.

Update: A source from Angela Rayner’s campaign has expressed disappointment about the media coverage of her ITV interview, saying: “This doesn’t reflect the conversation at all. It’s been clipped to make headlines, which is very disappointing. It’s ironic that an interview that was in part about the failures of the press has itself then been distorted and spun in this way.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey also came in for some criticism last night, though this was largely from the other end of the factional spectrum. Lewis Goodall reported from an event in Liverpool where the leadership hopeful was told that Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge and John Mann were members of the “Israeli lobby” and asked “why on earth” she had described herself as a “Zionist”. Although Long-Bailey replied in defence of a “strong independent Israel”, she did not address the remarks about the “Israeli lobby”. Another attendee called Labour-Tory switchers “traitors” and questioned whether Labour should “want them back”. Long-Bailey was criticised for careful replies that did not confront those comments head-on.

A new report on health inequalities, penned by Sir Michael Marmot, has been released today. It comes ten years after he first published data on the growing wealth and regional gaps in England, and he now concludes: “England has lost a decade.” Following a decade of austerity, the report highlights that life expectancy is stalling in England, and has actually fallen among women in the poorest 10% of areas. Jon Ashworth has written for LabourList with his thoughts on the report and how the next Labour leader must tackle these devastating inequities.

  • Today: Guardian leadership hustings in Manchester (6.30pm)
  • Wednesday: PMQs (12pm); Arise rally with Richard Burgon and others in London (7pm); Beer and Brexit with John McDonnell (7pm)
  • Thursday: Sky News live Labour leadership debate (8pm)
  • Saturday: Party leadership hustings in Brighton
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