Labour Leadership Election

24 Feb 2020

DRD Analyst, Sergio Cortes Allsopp shares his views on the fast approaching Labour leadership election.

Read more about the one member, one vote, and one mission.


One member, one vote, ha, one mission

38. The number of MPs the Lib Dems could only dream of having? The number of games Liverpool are hoping to go unbeaten this season? Yes and yes. It’s also the number of days until the leader of that other party is announced. The shadow opposition, which takes its name so literally it is currently nowhere to be seen, has today opened voting for a new leader. Its “one member, one vote” system makes the election a straight ranked-choice by the membership.

Labour has used the post-election period to reflect on voters’ grievances around Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn, installing the architect of their second referendum policy and a Corbyn continuity candidate as frontrunners. Keir Starmer has 374 of 648 nominations from local constituency parties – the most Corbyn achieved was 285 during the 2016 leadership challenge by Owen Smith. Backed by heavyweights such as ex-Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, Starmer continues to err on the side of Corbyn, most notably with promises of sweeping nationalisation and increased union powers.

In the other red corner, stands Rebecca Long-Bailey. For someone born to the ‘roar of the Stretford End’, she has struggled to keep the left United and the anti-establishment figure is ironically seen as part of the previous establishment. When Corbyn announced he was happy to consider a role in any newly-formed shadow cabinet, RLB’s first thought was not “Dad, you’re embarrassing me!” – she had in fact encouraged his participation four days prior. Along with sticking rigidly to the 2019 manifesto policies, her campaign has found it difficult to chime with the desire for change felt by the membership.

Meanwhile Lisa Nandy has impressed many members by not being Rebecca Long-Bailey. Nandy’s modus operandi has been to paint the towns red, insisting that Labour has long ignored northern communities such as her home of Wigan, though her pitch now includes cities, reflecting her need to build broader support. She won’t win, and the juicy second preference votes of her supporters will likely decide the race.

Disappointingly, there has been no cult-off between the -ites of Blair and Corbyn, no Wilder vs. Fury between a wing which lost elections in 2010 and 2015 and one which lost elections in 2017 and 2019. When candidates were asked to name the best Labour leader of the past 50 years, none gave Blair or Corbyn as a response. Tip-toeing around the fissures in ideology is seen as a safe strategy when faced with a paradoxical membership – one which supports Corbyn’s policies while ignoring both his deep national unpopularity and his preferred candidate, which remains convinced the party was right to shift its position on Brexit despite 52 of 54 lost seats having voted to leave, which criticises the lack of party unity while endorsing two candidates who resigned from the shadow cabinet. Whoever wins come 4 April, it will be interesting to see if all these ideas can be married in such a broad church.