Labour members feel the Byrne as leadership race picks up

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The race is over. No, not the big one you’ve been waiting for – there’s still over eight weeks to go in the Labour leadership race. But Liam Byrne has won the contest to be Labour’s candidate in the West Midlands metro mayoral election, which will take place in May this year. The MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill won the process after second preferences were taken into account. But the candidate received nearly enough first preferences alone, taking 45% of the vote in the first round, with Pete Lowe receiving 29% as Salma Yaqoob took third place with 26%.

Byrne had the support of GMB, TSSA, Community and Usdaw, as well as the backing of ex-deputy leader Tom Watson. Surprisingly for many, considering that he was a New Labour minister who co-founded the Blairite think tank Progress, he was also endorsed by John McDonnell. Both Yaqoob and Lowe are considered to be further left than Byrne, with the former endorsed by Unite and Momentum. But Byrne worked hard throughout the campaign, supporting food banks and campaigning against homelessness, and promoting many of the ideas backed by the Corbynite leadership – such as Labour’s green new deal. His victory is seen as good news for Keir Starmer’s leadership bid, as the Holborn MP is similarly trying to bring together a broad coalition, against Rebecca Long-Bailey’s Unite and Momentum backed candidacy.

We had a bumper night of 66 all-member meetings yesterday. Starmer picked up 31 nominations, bringing his total to 201. Long-Bailey had a good night too but gained less support with 20 coming out for her, raising her tally to 96. Nandy managed to nab nine, but it was a difficult night for Thornberry who didn’t receive any. As the only candidate not already on the ballot paper, the Shadow Foreign Secretary needs another 20.

Angela Rayner continued to widen her lead in the deputy race and received 29 of the 66. Dawn Butler is still in second place, having picked up a further nine to bring her up to 49. Richard Burgon can be pretty happy with the evening as he grabbed another 14 nominations to see him overtake Ian Murray for third place. But Murray is now on the ballot paper. Rosena Allin-Khan received seven, bringing her total to 27, which makes the requirement of 33 look doable.

Nominations for BAME and CLP representatives on Labour’s national executive committee are also being considered at these meetings, after Keith Vaz vacated his spot and Navendru Mishra and Claudia Webbe were elected as MPs. To reach the ballot, each candidate needs the support of five CLPs, and the BAME representative can also secure a place by receiving nominations from two trade unions. After some delay, Momentum has revealed its slate for the local party positions: Leigh Drennan and Lauren Townsend. But already Jo Bird, supported by the Labour Left Alliance and the Labour Representation Committee, is doing well – as is Labour First-backed Johanna Baxter. We’ve got a rolling list here – if your local party nominates someone, please let us know. We’re relying on tips from members and candidates, so slide into our DMs or email us.

Starmer has committed to ending the “stifling over-centralisation of power in our politics, in our party and in parliament” in a LabourList article this morning. As part of our local government week, he has unveiled five pledges to devolve powers away from Whitehall. We have lots more great content coming up, with contributions today focusing on why Labour’s fightback strategy needs to begin at the local level. This is all in anticipation of the Labour Local Government Conference taking place in Nottingham tomorrow. LabourList stands ready to cover all of the action, as usual, so don’t miss us too much over the weekend and make sure you keep an eye on the website.

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