Labour leadership: where will the final nominations go?

Burnham certain to make the ballot but the left remains hopelessly divided.

Labour MPs have just a few hours left to make up their minds before nominations for the leadership close at 12.30pm. Andy Burnham is now just two short of the required 33 nominations and is certain to make it on to the ballot paper. (You'll be able to see him at our Labour leadership debate tonight.) In fact, since David Miliband has promised to lend his vote to any candidate who needs it, Burnham is just one short.

But so far, Ed Balls is the only nominee to take the bolder step of urging his supporters to back an alternative candidate in order to ensure a politically diverse field.

As things stand, it doesn't look like either John McDonnell or Diane Abbott will stand aside to give the left a fighting chance of making the ballot. A lot of McDonnell supporters were unhappy with my call for the Labour left-winger to step down and endorse Abbott.

But, even though McDonnell now has 16 nominations to Abbott's 11, it is Abbott who would have the best chance of proceeding.

Most of Abbott's centrist supporters, such as Harriet Harman, David Lammy, Fiona Mactaggart and Keith Vaz, would not transfer to McDonnell. I'm also confident that many Labour MPs who would never consider nominating McDonnell, would vote for Abbott if she had a genuine chance of making the ballot.

I'd expect a fair number of Labour women to follow Harman and nominate Abbott (McDonnell is unlikely to win any more votes), but it will take something special for her to win the 22 nominations she needs.

There are 36 MPs yet to nominate a candidate. Here is a list of them:

Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow)

Graham Allen (Nottingham North)

Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West)

Margaret Beckett (Derby South)

Gordon Brown (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Nick Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne East)

Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

Richard Burden (Birmingham Northfield)

Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill)

Stella Creasy (Walthamstow)

Tony Cunningham (Workington)

Nick Dakin (Scunthorpe)

Angela Eagle (Wallasey)

Sheila Gilmore (Edinburgh East)

Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green)

David Heyes (Ashton-under-Lyne)

Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch)

Eric Illsley (Barnsley Central)

Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore)

Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Sian James (Swansea East)

Cathy Jamieson (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

Graham Jones (Hyndburn)

Tony Lloyd (Manchester Central)

Denis MacShane (Rotherham)

Shabana Mahmood (Birmingham Ladywood)

Gregg McClymont (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East)

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

George Mudie (Leeds East)

Dawn Primarolo (Bristol South)

Jack Straw (Blackburn)

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton)

Gisela Stuart (Birmingham Edgbaston)

Stephen Twigg (Liverpool West Derby)

David Winnick (Walsall North)

Phil Woolas (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Stability is essential to solve the pension problem

The new chancellor must ensure we have a period of stability for pension policymaking in order for everyone to acclimatise to a new era of personal responsibility in retirement, says 

There was a time when retirement seemed to take care of itself. It was normal to work, retire and then receive the state pension plus a company final salary pension, often a fairly generous figure, which also paid out to a spouse or partner on death.

That normality simply doesn’t exist for most people in 2016. There is much less certainty on what retirement looks like. The genesis of these experiences also starts much earlier. As final salary schemes fall out of favour, the UK is reaching a tipping point where savings in ‘defined contribution’ pension schemes become the most prevalent form of traditional retirement saving.

Saving for a ‘pension’ can mean a multitude of different things and the way your savings are organised can make a big difference to whether or not you are able to do what you planned in your later life – and also how your money is treated once you die.

George Osborne established a place for himself in the canon of personal savings policy through the introduction of ‘freedom and choice’ in pensions in 2015. This changed the rules dramatically, and gave pension income a level of public interest it had never seen before. Effectively the policymakers changed the rules, left the ring and took the ropes with them as we entered a new era of personal responsibility in retirement.

But what difference has that made? Have people changed their plans as a result, and what does 'normal' for retirement income look like now?

Old Mutual Wealth has just released. with YouGov, its third detailed survey of how people in the UK are planning their income needs in retirement. What is becoming clear is that 'normal' looks nothing like it did before. People have adjusted and are operating according to a new normal.

In the new normal, people are reliant on multiple sources of income in retirement, including actively using their home, as more people anticipate downsizing to provide some income. 24 per cent of future retirees have said they would consider releasing value from their home in one way or another.

In the new normal, working beyond your state pension age is no longer seen as drudgery. With increasing longevity, the appeal of keeping busy with work has grown. Almost one-third of future retirees are expecting work to provide some of their income in retirement, with just under half suggesting one of the reasons for doing so would be to maintain social interaction.

The new normal means less binary decision-making. Each choice an individual makes along the way becomes critical, and the answers themselves are less obvious. How do you best invest your savings? Where is the best place for a rainy day fund? How do you want to take income in the future and what happens to your assets when you die?

 An abundance of choices to provide answers to the above questions is good, but too much choice can paralyse decision-making. The new normal requires a plan earlier in life.

All the while, policymakers have continued to give people plenty of things to think about. In the past 12 months alone, the previous chancellor deliberated over whether – and how – to cut pension tax relief for higher earners. The ‘pensions-ISA’ system was mooted as the culmination of a project to hand savers complete control over their retirement savings, while also providing a welcome boost to Treasury coffers in the short term.

During her time as pensions minister, Baroness Altmann voiced her support for the current system of taxing pension income, rather than contributions, indicating a split between the DWP and HM Treasury on the matter. Baroness Altmann’s replacement at the DWP is Richard Harrington. It remains to be seen how much influence he will have and on what side of the camp he sits regarding taxing pensions.

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has entered the Treasury while our new Prime Minister calls for greater unity. Following a tumultuous time for pensions, a change in tone towards greater unity and cross-department collaboration would be very welcome.

In order for everyone to acclimatise properly to the new normal, the new chancellor should commit to a return to a longer-term, strategic approach to pensions policymaking, enabling all parties, from regulators and providers to customers, to make decisions with confidence that the landscape will not continue to shift as fundamentally as it has in recent times.

Steven Levin is CEO of investment platforms at Old Mutual Wealth.

To view all of Old Mutual Wealth’s retirement reports, visit: products-and-investments/ pensions/pensions2015/