Rebecca Long Bailey has announced that she is standing to become leader of the Labour party with a stout defence of Jeremy Corbyn’s political programme in the general election.
Widely seen as the favoured candidate of the left of the party, the MP for Salford and Eccles announced her candidacy on Monday night with a piece criticising the party’s election strategy and lack of narrative. She promised to defend policies within the party’s current socialist programme with “unwavering determination” in the article for Tribune magazine.
In the article, she says: “It is true that one reason we lost the election was that Labour’s campaign lacked a coherent narrative. But this was a failure of campaign strategy, not of our socialist programme.
“I don’t just agree with the policies, I’ve spent the last four years writing them. Labour’s green new deal, our plans to radically democratise the economy, and to renew the high streets of towns across the country, are the foundations for an economic transformation that will combat the climate crisis and hand back wealth and power to ordinary people.”
The green new deal, which she said was “tragically undersold” in the election, would remain at the heart of her programme if she became leader, she said.
Shadow Treasury minister and MP for Norwich South, he rejoined Labour’s frontbench in January 2018, having resigned in February 2017 in order to oppose the bill triggering the Brexit process.
Rebecca Long Bailey
A close ally of the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, the Salford MP and shadow business secretary has been groomed as a potential leftwing contender for the top job.
The Wigan MP has built a reputation as a campaigner for her constituency and others like it, many of which have fallen to the Tories. A soft-left candidate, she resigned from the shadow cabinet in 2016 over Corbyn’s leadership and handling of the EU referendum.
The MP for Birmingham Yardley is a strong media performer who has built up a significant public profile from the backbenches. Her fiery speeches and witty barbs aimed at the Conservatives frequently go viral online.
Pitch Prepared to argue for Britain to re-enter the European Union and address challenge of bringing back working-class voters.
Ambitious former director of public prosecutions has led the charge for remain in the shadow cabinet. He was instrumental in shifting Labour’s position towards backing a second referendum
Pitch Launched his campaign by highlighting how he has stood up for leftwing causes as a campaigning lawyer, and unveiled the slogan “Another Future is Possible”.
The shadow foreign secretary and MP in Islington South and Finsbury, she will have to fight allegations of being part of the “metropolitan elite”.
“The popularity of our green new deal bridges the divides in our electoral coalition, with huge support in the cities and marginals in the south-east too. It should have been a core part of our offer: this is how Labour will help you take back control,” she wrote.
She has also promised not to move back to tactics employed by Ed Miliband on immigration. “Never again will our party put ‘controls on immigration’ on a mug,” she said. “It would be a betrayal of our principles, and of our core supporters and activists.”
Long Bailey is the sixth candidate to declare. When Corbyn announced the day after last month’s election defeat that he would resign, she was immediately installed as favourite by some bookmakers.
However, the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, appears to have taken a lead in the contest, according to an early poll of members. Other contenders who have entered the race include the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry; the shadow Treasury minister, Clive Lewis; and backbench MPs Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips.
Ian Lavery, the party’s chairman and former National Union of Mineworkers executive, has dropped out of the leadership race, a source confirmed on Monday night.
Lavery released a statement offering Long Bailey his support. “Having worked with her in the shadow cabinet, I know she has the intellect, drive and determination to take forward and develop the popular, commonsense socialist policies that Jeremy Corbyn has championed,” he said. “And after more than a century, it’s about time the Labour party was led was a woman.”
Long Bailey is regarded as the leadership candidate whose politics are closest to that of Corbyn and is widely expected to attract support from many of his inner circle, including the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. She is also expected to pick up the endorsements of Unite and Momentum.
In her comment piece, Long Bailey reassured party members that she was “totally committed to the policies” and could “be trusted with our socialist agenda” with a “political backbone”.
She criticised the agenda promoted by Labour before Corbyn became leader, describing the platform as consisting of “triangulation and Tory-lite policies that held our party back”.
Labour’s new leader and deputy leader will be announced at a special conference on 4 April, with prospective supporters given a 48-hour window next week to sign up if they want to have their say.
The party’s ruling national executive committee decided at a three-hour meeting on Monday that the timetable for the leadership contest would stick closely to that set out in the party’s rulebook.
Candidates for both jobs will face a week-long scramble to secure the support of 22 of their fellow MPs or MEPs. Nominations close at 2.30pm on Monday 13 January.
If they pass that hurdle, they will have a month to win the backing of 5% of constituency Labour parties, or at least three affiliated groups, which between them represent 5% of affiliated members – two of which must be trade unions.