This post was written on Friday night but due to a technical fault has not been published until today.
Last night, three female Labour leadership hopefuls joined Sir Keir Starmer in entering the next round of the Labour leadership race.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips all surpassed the 22 nominations needed from Labour parliamentarians in Westminster and Brussels. However, the Shadow Brexit Secretary support continued to grow.
As of this morning, two-thirds of eligible Labour parliamentarians have declared who they wish to succeed Jeremy Corbyn in leading the Labour Party, and subsequently, Her Majesty’s Opposition.
The former barrister, Starmer, has won the backing of 64 of his Labour colleagues. Potentially, more importantly, Starmer has also received endorsements by Britain’s largest trade union, Unison, and some surprising political commentators.
Sir Max Hastings, former editor-in-chief if The Daily Telegraph, claimed that if Starmer was elected as Labour leader then he could win back millions of ‘disenfranchised’ centrist voters. Boris Johnson worked for Hastings at The Daily Telegraph, and the former editor-in-chief described the now Prime Minister as ‘unfit for office’.
Starmer also has the backing of Lord Andrew Adonis. Adonis served as Transport Secretary during the Blair years, but has since been known for his unequivocal support for remaining in the EU. Last May, Adonis stood for the Labour Party in the EU Elections in the South West. He failed to win his seat, with the Brexit Party winning three of the six seats.
Rebecca Long-Bailey holds onto second-place, but the gap between her, Nandy and Phillips continues to shrink. The business secretary has the support of Corbynite economist Grace Blakeley, but has failed to win over the scale of support Starmer has. Nevertheless, Long-Bailey has the backing of 26 of her colleagues.
The centrist hopeful, Lisa Nandy, has continued to build on the Kinnock-faction of the Labour Party, and has replaced Jess Phillips in third position. Nandy, who served as Shadow Energy Secretary until the Corbyn coup, has surpassed the minimum threshold by one nomination, leaving her on 23.
Outside of the 212 parliamentarians Nandy also has the support from some prominent figures within the Labour Party. Building on the Labour-Leave support, Gloria de Piero has announced she hopes Nandy succeeds Corbyn. The former MP for Ashfield stood down before the election and watched as her Brexit-backing seat voted Conservative for the first time since 1977.
Nandy also has credible support in Scotland and in Wales. Lord McConnell, Labour’s last first minister in Scotland, will be supporting the member of parliament for Wigan. As will, the former MP for Neath, Lord Hain.
The final candidate to cross the first hurdle in Labour’s lengthy leadership contest is Jess Phillips. The 38-year old, who previously worked at Women’s Aid, is just one behind Nandy on 22 nominations. Her external support is broad, varying from former editor of The Spectator, Matthew d’Ancona to Melanie Onn, who failed to retain her seat of Great Grimsby last December.
The two remaining candidates have failed to land a blow in the opening drew days of the contest. With just days until nominations close, and just a third of Labour parliamentarians left to declare, Clive Lewis and Emily Thornberry face an uphill struggle.
However, Thornberry’s leadership bid may run close to the wire. Including herself the Shadow Foreign Secretary has 10 endorsements, 12 short of the 10% threshold. But with 70 MPs and MEPs yet to declare it wouldn’t be inconceivable for her to join Starmer, Long-Bailey, Nandy and Phillips.
The same cannot be said for Clive Lewis. The Norwich North MP, who served in Afghanistan, is particularly struggling to make sufficient ground on his colleagues, with just three nominations. It is not impossible for him to get the support of 22 colleagues but given the current trajectory it seems highly unlikely.
By J Walters