Angela Eagle is running to be deputy leader. Photo: YouTube screengrab
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Angela Eagle announces that she will stand to be deputy Labour leader

Angela Eagle declares that she will be running for the deputy Labour leadership.

Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey, is running for the deputy leadership of the Labour party.

An MP since 1992, Eagle has held a number of positions in both the last Labour government and in opposition. Most notably, she served as Pensions Minister under Gordon Brown, and has been shadow leader of the House of Commons (a position she still holds) since 2012.

Eagle is a popular MP locally (she managed to double her majority to over 16,000 this election), and one of Labour's quietly influential figures. She used to head up the National Executive Committee, and is currently chair of the party's National Policy Forum. An experienced candidate, Eagle has been in politics longer than the other potential deputy leadership contenders, and did well under Brown.

Her pitch centres on the idea of unity, both of the country and the party, and a robust debate about Labour's future.

She appears alongside a number of Labour activists holding up placards giving their reason for backing her for the post ("I'm ready for Angela because..."). One refers to David Cameron's infamous instruction to Eagle in the Commons to "calm down dear".

She says:

We are at a critical time and I care about the road we take. It is vital that the leadership team unites the party and takes us forward.  

The General Election result was bad, it is now time to debate, take stock, and then pick ourselves up to become the formidable team we can be to win in 2020.  I am ready to contribute to that effort.

Her view on Labour's economic challenge is:

Labour must be the answer to a prosperous and successful economy in a twenty first century world where past success is no guarantee of future fortune. This means the whole country being rich with opportunity north and south, east and west.

We have to challenge current economic orthodoxies and trickle-down economics head on. We must never be against wealth creation but we can be against tax evasion and we can insist on fair rules for those at the top as well as those at the bottom of the income scale. Labour must also be at the forefront of building a new economic settlement rooted in rewarding innovation and skills. This new economy needs to be based on developing
opportunities for all our people.

Here's her campaign launch film:

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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What Donald Trump could learn from Ronald Reagan

Reagan’s candidacy was built on more than his celebrity. Trump not only lacks experience as an elected official, he isn’t part of any organised political movement.

“No one remembers who came in second.” That wisdom, frequently dispensed by the US presidential candidate Donald Trump, came back to haunt him this week. Trump’s loss in the Iowa Republican caucuses to the Texas senator Ted Cruz, barely beating Senator Marco Rubio of Florida for second place, was the first crack in a campaign that has defied all expectations.

It has been a campaign built on Trump’s celebrity. Over the past eight months, his broad name recognition, larger-than-life personality and media savvy have produced a theatrical candidacy that has transfixed even those he repels. The question now is whether that celebrity will be enough – whether a man so obsessed with being “Number One” can bounce back from defeat.

Iowa isn’t everything, after all. It didn’t back the eventual Republican nominee in 2008 or 2012. Nor, for that matter, in 1980, when another “celebrity” candidate was in the mix. That was the year Iowa picked George H W Bush over Ronald Reagan – the former actor whom seasoned journalists dismissed as much for his right-wing views as for his “B-movie” repertoire. But Reagan regrouped, romped to victory in the New Hampshire primary and rode a wave of popular support all the way to the White House.

Trump might hope to replicate that success and has made a point of pushing the Reagan analogy more generally. Yet it is a comparison that exposes Trump’s weaknesses and his strengths.

Both men were once Democrats who came later in life to the Republican Party, projecting toughness, certainty and unabashed patriotism. Trump has even adopted Reagan’s 1980 campaign promise to “make America great again”. Like Reagan, he has shown he can appeal to evangelicals despite question marks over his religious conviction and divorces. In his ability to deflect criticism, too, Trump has shown himself as adept as Reagan – if by defiance rather than by charm – and redefined what it means to be “Teflon” in the age of Twitter.

That defiance, however, points to a huge difference in tone between Reagan’s candidacy and Trump’s. Reagan’s vision was a positive, optimistic one, even as he castigated “big government” and the perceived decline of US power. Reagan’s America was meant to be “a city upon a hill” offering a shining example of liberty to the world – in rhetoric at least. Trump’s vision is of an America closed off from the world. His rhetoric invokes fear as often as it does freedom.

On a personal level, Reagan avoided the vituperative attacks that have been the hallmark of Trump’s campaign, even as he took on the then“establishment” of the Republican Party – a moderate, urban, east coast elite. In his first run for the nomination, in 1976, Reagan even challenged an incumbent Republican president, Gerald Ford, and came close to defeating him. But he mounted the challenge on policy grounds, advocating the so-called “Eleventh Commandment”: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” Trump, as the TV debates between the Republican presidential candidates made clear, does not subscribe to the same precept.

More importantly, Reagan in 1976 and 1980 was the leader of a resurgent conservative movement, with deep wells of political experience. He had been president of the Screen Actors Guild in the late 1940s, waging a campaign to root out communist infiltrators. He had gone on to work for General Electric in the 1950s as a TV pitchman and after-dinner speaker, honing a business message that resonated beyond the “rubber chicken circuit”.

In 1964 he grabbed headlines with a televised speech on behalf of the Republican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater – a bright spot in Goldwater’s otherwise ignominious campaign. Two years later he was elected governor of California – serving for eight years as chief executive of the nation’s most populous state. He built a conservative record on welfare reform, law and order, and business regulation that he pushed on to the federal agenda when he ran for president.

All this is to say that Reagan’s candidacy was built on more than his celebrity. By contrast, Trump not only lacks experience as an elected official, he isn’t part of any organised political movement – which enhanced his “outsider” status, perhaps, but not his ground game. So far, he has run on opportunism, tapping in to popular frustration, channelled through a media megaphone.

In Iowa, this wasn’t enough. To win the nomination he will have to do much more to build his organisation. He will be hoping that in the primaries to come, voters do remember who came in second. 

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war