Cheeky Nandy’s or KeirFC?
The final five candidates for the Labour leadership race are now confirmed. Not only that, but the window for registering as a Labour supporter is now open, too! This means that for the paltry fee of £25, you can vote for its next leader.
The window closes at 5pm on Thursday. Yes, it’s just a 48-hour window. Politics is for everyone, and all that.
Anyway. Given my recent affiliations with a certain orangey/goldy party, I’m not allowed to register. But any normal voter, unregistered to other parties, is welcome to get involved with the Labour election process!
And if you can afford to, I would heartily recommend you get involved.
We’ve got Prime Minister Burrs Jernsern for 5 years, barring a colossal cock-up. But forming a strong, competent opposition is still vitally important to democracy – holding governments to account is a cornerstone of our political system.
If Corbyn had been able to put up a front that was half as unified Noel and Liam Gallagher he may well have beaten the Tories.
Instead, his ineptitude led to a Tory landslide. A principled man, but an abysmal leader. Poka-poka, comrade.
Anyway. Should you want to be a part of the process, or are simply just interested, you’ll probably want to know who the candidates are, won’t you?
Well then. Let’s find out.
Sir Keir Starmer
In the last shadow government, Sir Keir was a prominent anti-Brexit campaigner – somewhat ironic, given his position as shadow Brexit secretary under a leader who was hardly pro-Remain.
A measured man, he is far more centre-left than Corbyn. Not quite as centrist as Blair, but there are echos of Big Tony with old Keir. His knighthood was awarded for his services to law and criminal justice – he was a prominent human rights lawyer and former Head of the Crown Prosecution Service.
He also prefers not to be called “Sir.” Understandably.
Starmer is currently the outrunner by a considerable margin in terms of support within the Labour party. He stands an excellent chance of winning, and would be a sensible choice to steady the extremely wobbly, half-sunk ship.
But he might not quite have the charisma to take down Johnson at the dispatch box in PMQs. That might not be a bad thing, however – if the Johnson government is half as chaotic as early signs suggest it might be, a calm opponent might start to look very alluring by 2024.
The most likely winner. Cool, calm, collected, he could be just what the Labour party needs.
OFFICIAL BTL RATING: 4/5
Rebecca Long-Bailey has been something of a dark-horse, emerging out of nowhere to become the darling of the Corbynistas. A strong proponent of the hard-left policies of the last Labour leadership team, she has been dubbed “Continuity Corbyn.”
This is perhaps a touch unfair – she doesn’t have the CND, 1970s Marxist background of her predecessor, having been a solicitor before becoming an MP.
Long-Bailey’s meteoric rise has come through support of the unions and other traditional left-wing support bases, so despite her relative lack of experience, she’s definitely popular.
But is she popular enough with the Labour mainstream? She recently gave Corbyn’s leadership a slightly surprising (i.e. absolutely mental) 10/10, which is hardly going to endear her to the Labour die-hards who have seen their safe seats turn blue. She’s also not the most engaging of personalities – it’s hard to see where she could beat Bumbag Jumblesale in terms of charisma.
She’s basically the only hard-left candidate, which will stand her in reasonable stead within the party. Whether or not the entire Labour party is prepared to have one last stab at socialism, which has left them decimated, is another thing altogether.
BTL RATING: 3/5
Emily Thornberry came to my attention through this video.
And my love affair with Emily started from there. An unashamed critic of Corbyn’s, Thornberry was a prominent campaigner and organiser of the People’s Vote campaign. At every turn, she was more than happy to throw her leader’s Brexit policy under the bus in favour of being staunchly pro-EU.
As Shadow Foreign Secretary, no less.
She’s also bloody hilarious, and would easily sidestep a lot of Johnson’s bluster in the House of Commons. It would be something of a vaudeville act, but fun nonetheless.
She’s also another former lawyer, and married to a Sir herself – she could be Lady Nugee if she wanted to (which itself sounds like a rather endearing euphemism).
But therein lies her problem – Thornberry is unashamedly centrist, and often accused of being too posh for the Labour party. She’s not popular with the unions, the left of the party, or, seemingly, that many MPs – she had a surprisingly low number of nominations.
And so, as fun as it would be, she’s unlikely to win. She’ll almost certainly be a cabinet minister – I, for one, hope she remains Foreign Secretary. Imagine her and Donald Trump meeting.
We can only dream.
BTL RATING: 2/5 (but 5/5 for the bants)
I cannot tell you how much I adore Jess Phillips.
Another centrist Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, it’s hard to remember a politician who fights so hard for both her constituents and what she believes in.
She doesn’t look, sound or act like a politician, but that’s why she’s so bloody brilliant.
Take, for instance, this little story. When Jeremy Corbyn appointed his shadow cabinet in 2015, Phillips challenged Diane Abbott to explain why he hadn’t given any of the major offices to women. Abbott accused her of being sanctimonious.
Phillips told her to fuck off.
When asked what Abbott did after that suggestion, Phillips told a reporter, “She fucked off.”
She’s an ardent Remainer, despite being in a Leave seat, and yet still has a huge majority – that’s how much her consituents believe in her. She is a passionate feminist campaigner, and a brilliant orator, too. She takes zero prisoners.
She’s passionate. She’s a true advocate for the people. She’s brilliant.
But she won’t win. She doesn’t have the support of the hard-left, and as wonderful as her passion is, it often doesn’t win her many favours across her party. Her allies are fiercely loyal to her, but I don’t think she can win.
And I don’t think she should yet, either.
If Jess can be in the shadow government for the next five years, keep fighting the good fight and channel her energies ever so slightly into becoming more statesmanlike, she could end up being one for the future.
BTL RATING: 2/5 but with bags of potential
I’m not going to lie, Lisa “Cheeky” Nandy has come out of nowhere for this leadership race. As MP for Wigan, she struck me as competent, capable, but not really leadership material.
And yet she’s received more nominations than Jess Phillips, and only 2 fewer than Long-Bailey.
Nandy also secured the backing of the National Union of Mineworkers, a persuasive force in the left-wing of the party. Her passion for reigniting town centres has also struck a chord with some members of the electorate, and has sparked some truly excellent memes.
I’m not sure what to say about Nandy, as being a candidate with little previous fame is not a bad thing in this election.
Keep an eye on this one. The Rando Cardrissian of Labour’s Leadership Race (one for you Cards Against Humanity Fans).
BTL RATING: ?/5
LOTO being Leader of the Opposition. Politics nerd wordplay banter.
…How am I not single?
Anyway, these are the candidates for leader of the Labour party. One of these five will be tasked with trying to hold a romping Johnson government in check.
No small task. But all of them, in their own ways, are competent, engaging and exciting.
And that, alone, makes any of them better than the mess that Corbyn leaves in his wake.