Theme of the week
The battle to be the next Labour leader to lose to the Conservatives is under way, and a clear theme has emerged: who has the most working-class background?
Keir Starmer’s father was a toolmaker, helping offset the middle-class emissions created by reports he has an Aga cooker. Rebecca Long-Bailey has said her childhood was overshadowed by her father losing a job in Liverpool’s docks when she was two.
It’s only a matter of time before one of the candidates traces their roots back to the leaders of the peasant’s revolt, although Wat Tyler was probably a bit on the posh side for their tastes.
Claim of the week
The contest has so far been like a high-speed version of Labour bingo. A promise not to speak to the Sun – check. Liberal dollops of praise for Keir Hardie – check. They have also made clear – and this may come as a shock – that they are proud defenders of the NHS.
Well done, then, to Lisa Nandy, who has been mixing things up a bit. During an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil last week, she suggested that the UK could deal with the campaign for Scottish independence in the same way that Spanish authorities cracked down on separatists in Catalonia.
Given that the Spanish tactics involved plastic bullets, baton charges and the arrests of Catalonia’s leaders, this was quite the change of gear. Despairing voters may now just vote for one of those tedious parody candidates, like the obviously absurd and rather cliched public-school caricature “Boris Johnson”. Still, these eccentric characters are part of Britain’s rich election tradition, aren’t they?
Endorsement of the week
A huge moment as Momentum backed Long-Bailey for leader. It came as a major shock, given that Long-Bailey’s name was the only one put forward to Momentum members to approve.
Momentum has modelled itself as the voice of Labour’s left, keen to boost the voice of grassroots activists and members. Quite right, then, that its senior body agreed unanimously that Momentum members would only get the chance to say yes or no to endorsing Long-Bailey, rather than the absurd spectacle of asking which of the candidates they preferred.
Of the 7,395 Momentum members who voted, 70% backed Long-Bailey’s endorsement – overwhelming, really. With Momentum thought to have about 40,000 members, this could only represent a fifth of members backing her as leader, but these are minor details. The important thing is democracy was allowed to happen.