Five Candidates Qualify to Succeed Corbyn as Labour Leader

Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips and Emily Thornberry make it into the second round.

Keir Starmer Jeremy Corbyn Rebecca Long-Bailey
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn chairs a meeting in London flanked by Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey, April 3, 2019 (PA/Stefan Rousseau)
  • Five candidates have qualified for the second round of the Labour leadership election in the United Kingdom: Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips and Emily Thornberry won the required 10 percent support from lawmakers to make it into the next nominating round.
  • Clive Lewis pulled out after receiving only five endorsements. Some of his supporters switched to Thornberry, who received 23 endorsements, only one more than needed.
  • Keir Starmer won the most endorsements by far (89), including from former leader Ed Miliband.
  • Starmer is also backed by Unison, the largest trade union with 1.4 million members.
  • Unite, the second largest union with 1.2 million members, has yet to endorse. Its chief, Len McCluskey, was an ally of outgoing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. The expectation is he will endorse Rebecca Long-Bailey.
  • Long-Bailey has the support of Corbyn loyalists in Parliament, including Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
  • All the leadership candidates last week voted down the withdrawal agreement that regulates Britain’s exit from the EU. It nevertheless passed the House of Commons with 330 votes in favor and 231 against.

Where the candidates stand

Nandy and Phillips argue the party needs to pivot away from the priorities of the woke left in order to win back traditional, working-class Labour supporters who, in many cases for the first time ever, voted Conservative in December.

Long-Bailey is the continuity candidates. She doesn’t believe Labour’s worst electoral defeat since 1935 warrants any change, because it “won the argument” on capping executive pay, nationalizing electricity and rail, raising public spending 10 percent to pay for free broadband Internet and universal childcare, and ending Britain’s close alliance with the United States in favor of better relations with Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

Starmer is trying to split the difference between Corbyn critics and loyalists.

Thornberry’s position is less clear. Once a staunch Corbyn supporter, she has criticized the outgoing leader in recent days for failing to tackle antisemitism on the left and not campaigning to keep Britain in the EU.

What’s next?

  • Constituency parties and affiliates — trade unions and socialist societies like the Fabian Society, Labour Business and LGBT Labour — will have until February 14 to make their endorsements. Candidates must have the support of at least 5 percent of constituency parties or three affiliates, of which two must be trade unions, representing at least 5 percent of the affiliated membership, to make it into the third and final voting round.
  • Between February 21 and April 2, party members, affiliate members and registered supporters will be able to vote by mail.
  • Non-members can register as supporters between January 14 and 16 and vote for a one-time £25 fee.
  • The cutoff date to join either the Labour Party or one of its affiliates as a full member is January 20. People joining after that will not be eligible to vote.
  • The winner is due to be announced on April 4, which would give Labour a new leader before the local elections in May.

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