Labour leadership: Lisa Nandy declares ambition to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as left-wingers endorse Rebecca Long-Bailey for top job

December 16, 2019 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Lisa Nandy has said she is “seriously thinking” about running to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour leader sparked fury for failing to take responsibility for the party’s catastrophic election result.

The Wigan MP is the first to break cover on her intentions to run in what could be a crowded leadership race – with Rebecca Long-Bailey emerging as the favoured successor to Mr Corbyn by the left-wing of the party.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said Ms Long-Bailey would make a “brilliant” leader, while Richard Burgon, one of Corbyn’s most loyal allies in the shadow cabinet, said he would back her for the top job.

Labour has been rocked by Boris Johnson’s historic election victory, which resulted in the party’s worst defeat at the polls since 1935.

Speculation is mounting over who will announce a bid to succeed Mr Corbyn, with Sir Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry and Dawn Butler all understood to be poised to launch campaigns. Angela Rayner, Ms Long-Bailey and Jess Phillips are also thought to be considering running.

Asked about whether she would run, Ms Nandy told the Andrew Marr Show: “The honest answer is that I am seriously thinking about it.

“The reason that I am thinking about it is because we have just had the most shattering defeat where you really felt in towns like mine that the earth was quaking and we have watched the entire Labour base just crumble beneath our feet.

“We need to think seriously now about first of all how you bring those lifelong Labour voters – who felt that they not only couldn’t vote Labour but actually in many instance chose the Tories – how you bring Labour home to them.”

The former shadow cabinet minister laid out her pitch to reconnect Labour with its voters outside London, with calls to move party HQ away from the capital and to return the annual conference to towns across the UK.

Ms Nandy said there is a “very, very hard road” to regain the trust of Labour voters in towns across the north of England, adding: “I think it’s right to say that we need to be much more rooted in those parts of the country.”

Her declaration comes as Mr Corbyn’s allies began to coalesce around Ms Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, who has long been regarded as the protege of Mr McDonnell.

The Salford MP has not yet announced whether she will run, but she is understood to be speaking to Ms Rayner over the weekend over whether one or both of them will run for the job. The deputy leadership post is also open after Tom Watson stood down at the election.

Mr Burgon, the shadow justice secretary, threw his weight behind Ms Long-Bailey as a candidate, saying she understood what needed to be done to win back Labour voters in northern Leave seats.

Asked if he will stand for the leadership, he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I’ve made no secret of the fact that I would like to see Rebecca Long-Bailey as leader of the Labour Party. That’s a decision for her to make.

“I think she understands northern Leave seats. She’s had experience in the shadow cabinet in charge of the shadow BEIS (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) department.

“I think she’s somebody who could really help us to win back those votes we’ve lost. She’d be a fantastic first woman leader of the Labour Party.”

Asked if he would run to be Ms Long-Bailey’s deputy, Mr Burgon said: “I’m considering that. Colleagues have approached me about that, and grassroots members and trade unions encouraging me to stand.”

Mr McDonnell said he expected the leadership change will take place in eight to 10 weeks, and said Ms Long-Bailey “could be a brilliant leader” before praising shadow cabinet ministers Ms Rayner, Mr Burgon and Ms Butler.

He also said it was “most probably time for a non-metropolitan”, adding: “I think it is time for a non-London MP, we need a northern voice as much as possible.”

Any potential bid by Ms Thornberry was dealt a blow when Caroline Flint, angered by losing her Don Valley seat to the Tories, said the shadow foreign secretary had declared: “I’m glad my constituent aren’t as stupid as yours”.

Ms Thornberry famously resigned from the front bench after posting a tweet of a white van and several St George Flags during a by-election in Rochester and Strood – which was regarded as snobby by voters.

Asked who should succeed Mr Corbyn as Labour leader, Ms Flint said: “I don’t think it should be anybody who has had a hand in our Brexit strategy over the last few years, and I don’t think it can be Corbyn without a beard, I think that would be the wrong move as well.”

Ms Flint earlier said she was trying to “stem my anger” as she criticised “ardent Remainers” within the party – naming Sir Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry, Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper – for having “contributed to sacrificing 59 seats”.

The former minister said: “I don’t believe anybody who have been the architects of our European policy in the last few years is credible to be leader – I don’t think they can win back these seats.”

She added: “Keir Starmer led us to a policy that did not listen to Labour leave voices who urged caution, he led us down the path of a second referendum, and I’m afraid Emily Thornberry did as well – she said to one of my colleagues ‘I’m glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours’.”

It comes as Mr Corbyn faced criticism for claiming his party had “won the argument” but failing to express humility over the scale of Labour’s defeat under his leadership.

Mr McDonnell sought to shield his long-time ally from the fallout, saying: “It’s on me. It’s on me. Let’s take it on the chin. I own this disaster.”

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