Jeremy Corbyn has stated that he will step down as leader after labour’s huge defeat in the recent general election. Going with him is his entire shadow cabinet and deputy leader. Corbyn will formally step down within the next few weeks which is when the process to elect his replacement will commence.
Candidates looking to replace him have declared their intentions to run and are actively courting the Labour base. Candidates include Keir Starmer the shadow Brexit Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey the shadow Business Secretary, Emily Thornberry the Shadow Foreign Secretary and MP Lisa Nandy.
If you were an MP who wanted to run for leader, you would require 20 vote from your fellow MPs to nominate you to be on the ballot paper for leader. This then triggers several rounds of ranked-choice voting by the 202 Labour MPs in the House of Commons. The lowest-performing candidate in each vote is eliminated until only two remain. They then square off in a head to head vote in front of the more than 500,000 strong labour membership with the result announced on the 4th April.
Of the 5 Labour MPs to have secured their place on the ballot paper two have emerged as front runners: Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey. Both served in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet and both managed to keep their seats despite the heavy cull of Labour seats in the election. They are projected to make it all the way to the member vote.
Rebecca Long-Bailey is considered to be the closest of all the candidates in political ideology to Corbyn. She is a self-styled socialist with polices that include rail nationalisation and changes to the House of Lords to make it more democratic. Meanwhile, Keir Starmer is seen as more of a moderate who is determined to create a more radical Labour government. He was also a strong voice in Labour for a second vote to the referendum which led to Labours position in the election of trying to appease leavers and remainers.
A recent YouGov poll indicates that Sir Keir would beat Mrs Long-Bailey in the final round by 63% to 37%, once the other candidates have been eliminated. This prediction should however be taken with a pinch of salt. Jeremy Corbyn himself was considered a 200/1 outsider to win the party leadership in the last election.
Deputy leadership elections are also occurring with several candidates recently announced. This post has been vacant since Tom Watson announced he was stepping down after the election. Those running include Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner who is currently the front runner with 88 nominations by fellow MPs. Also running is Scotland’s only remaining Labour MP, Ian Murray with 34 votes followed by Shadow Equalities Minister, Dawn Butler with 29.
The entirety of February will be devoted to the voting rounds for the Labour Leader and Deputy Leadership elections culminating in a final vote on the 4th April. Whoever wins will have a huge task ahead of them in returning Labour to power after its worst defeat since 1935.
By Sakariya Yasin