Tom Watson is frontrunner for Labour's deputy leadership post. Photo: Getty
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Who are the MPs competing to become Labour's deputy leader?

The hunt for Harriet Harman's successor.

Harriet Harman, acting Labour leader, will resign her position as deputy leader once a new one is elected. Nominations close on 17 June. Who's in the running for the deputy leadership?

 

Tom Watson

MP for West Bromwich since 2001, former Labour campaign coordinator, worked to expose the phonehacking scandal.

From Brownite apparatchik to scourge of Rupert Murdoch, Tom Watson has long been in the public eye as a vocal Labour supremo. He is crowdfunding for a deputy leadership bid. Watson, who has been MP for West Bromwich East since 2001 and is the party's former campaign coordinator, would be difficult to beat. He has a lot of campaigning experience, and would have the unions' backing. However, he blotted his copybook over the Falkirk candidate selection scandal, when he stood down as campaign coordinator in 2013 (famously recommending Ed Miliband listen to some Drenge).

Strengths: Lots of support from both unions and members; well-known figure; would make the deputy leadership a key campaigning role.

Weaknesses: He's sort of had a rise and fall already; associated with Labour's past.

Read George Eaton’s interview with him here.

 

Ben Bradshaw

Former Culture Secretary, MP for Exeter since 1997, used to be a BBC radio journalist.

Ben Bradshaw is preparing his bid for the deputy leadership, according to the MailBradshaw is a Blairite and will run on a platform encouraging Labour to shift back to the centre ground. It is unlikely he will find enough support among the Parliamentary Labour Party to support his bid, and the fact that there are a few candidates making so-called Blairite bids for the leadership might clash with his endeavours. It is generally thought that the new leadership team needs one voice for the blue collar voters, and one for the aspirational middle classes.

Strengths: A popular centrist message; experience of government.

Weaknesses: Not a broad enough support base; too similar to some of the leadership candidates' messages.

Read Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre’s interview with him here.

 

Caroline Flint

Shadow energy secretary, MP for Don Valley since 1997, held various ministerial positions under Gordon Brown.

Caroline Flint is widely tipped to run for the deputy leadership. She resigned from her position as Minister for Europe in 2009 due to a fall-out with Gordon Brown, in which she famously commented that she had been treated as “female window dressing”. Serving in Miliband’s cabinet throughout his leadership, Flint has been able to detach herself from Labour’s past. She also impresses as a bullet-proof media performer, calm and competent when taking hits for Labour on television and radio. Veteran of the last Labour government, David Blunkett, is running her campaign.

Strengths: Impressive media performer; experience in government and opposition.

Weaknesses: Would she be wasted in such a role?

Read Caroline Flint's articles for the New Statesman here.

 

Stella Creasy

Shadow BIS minister, MP for Walthamstow since 2010, academic.

Stella Creasy has been so impressive in parliament that she was thought to be a leadership contender. But she has reportedly said she would be open to running for the deputy role. She is an impressive MP, working hard for her constituents (she won a stonking 23,000 majority this election) and also pushing tirelessly on individual campaigns – her fight against payday loan companies being the most well-known.

However, forever a "rising star", she hasn't shot up through the party ranks, and this is because she is seen as a bit of a lone operator by her fellow MPs. There may not be enough of a support base.

Strengths: Appeal beyond parliament; young, and a break from the past; impressive work ethic and ambition; broad appeal.

Weaknesses: Lacks strong support base in the party.

Read Stella Creasy's articles for the New Statesman hereRead my interview (for Total Politics) with her here.

 

Angela Eagle

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, MP for Wallasey since 1992, chair of Labour’s National Policy Forum.

One of the more quietly influential figures of the Labour party in recent years, Angela Eagle may be pitching for a job to save her from disappearing under Labour’s next regime. She did well under Gordon Brown, and it is possible she could run on a joint ticket with Andy Burnham (who is likely to contest the leadership).

Strengths: Has been in politics for a long time; experience of government and opposition; would receive support from the Brownites in the party.

Weaknesses: Associated with Labour’s past.

Read George Eaton’s interview with her here.

 

John Healey

MP for Wentworth and Dearne since 1997, shadow health secretary for Miliband's first year, held Treasury roles under Blair, served as Local Government Minister and Housing Minister under Gordon Brown.

This experienced Labour politician and quietly canny operator wasn't initially going to stand for the role. But he changed his mind, saying, “I’ve been dismayed at how narrow and shallow Labour’s debate has been so far.” He used to be campaign director of the Trades Union Congress, and has long been warning his party about the threat from Ukip in Labour's northern seats. He also urged Labour to talk about borrowing. 

He has nominated Yvette Cooper for the leadership, and in many ways is the Cooper candidate of the deputy leadership race: a Yorkshire MP with a New Labour past and some current Bluish Labour concerns who defends the last government's economic record. But they are not running on a joint ticket.

Strengths: Popular in the parliamentary party, experience in government, on the National Executive.

Weaknesses: Announced his intentions later than the other candidates, not a dynamic performer.

Read comments he made about borrowing to George Eaton here. Read his articles for the New Statesman here.

 

Rushanara Ali

MP for Bethnal Green and Bow since 2010, shadowed international development and education ministerial roles under Miliband, former civil servant at the Foreign Office and Home Office.

The first person of Bangladeshi origin to be elected to the House of Commons, Rushanara Ali resigned from the frontbench last year over Labour's support of airstrikes in Iraq. As ethnic minority voters are a focus, and she is from a working-class background, one of her key concerns is Labour losing votes to Ukip: "I’m used to rejection so I think I have something to offer . . . I know what it feels like to be an outsider trying to get in . . . I think a lot of our voters feel like that."

Strengths: A new voice, working-class roots, the only BME candidate in the leadership/deputy leadership race after Chuka Umunna dropped out.

Weaknesses: Not well-known, an unexpected candidate, announced her bid later than most of the other candidates.

Read Rushanara Ali's articles for the New Statesman hereRead my interview (for Total Politics) with her here.

 

Ruled out

Simon Danczuk - 20/5/15: Ruled himself out of the race

MP for Rochdale since 2010, working on the Westminster paedophile ring investigation.

Simon Danczuk, one of Ed Miliband’s fiercest critics throughout the past five years, says colleagues have approached him to run for the deputy leadership. As someone from a working-class background who has dealt with particularly gritty issues in his constituency of Rochdale regarding class, race and abuse, he would provide a voice for the party that many believes it has severely lacked.

Strengths: Authentic voice of working-class labour; his criticisms of the Miliband regime have been vindicated; tireless campaigner.

Weaknesses: His heart is in Rochdale; has he proved himself to be too disloyal for a senior party role?

Read Ashley Cowburn’s interview with him hereAnd my interview with him here.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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UnHerd's rejection of the new isn't as groundbreaking as it seems to think

Tim Montgomerie's new venture has some promise, but it's trying to solve an old problem.

Information overload is oft-cited as one of the main drawbacks of the modern age. There is simply too much to take in, especially when it comes to news. Hourly radio bulletins, rolling news channels and the constant stream of updates available from the internet – there is just more than any one person can consume. 

Luckily Tim Montgomerie, the founder of ConservativeHome and former Times comment editor, is here to help. Montgomerie is launching UnHerd, a new media venture that promises to pull back and focus on "the important things rather than the latest things". 

According to Montgomerie the site has a "package of investment", at least some of which comes from Paul Marshall. He is co-founder of one of Europe's largest hedge funds, Marshall Wace, formerly a longstanding Lib Dem, and also one of the main backers and chair of Ark Schools, an academy chain. The money behind the project is on display in UnHerd's swish (if slightly overwhelming) site, Google ads promoting the homepage, and article commissions worth up to $5,000. The selection of articles at launch includes an entertaining piece by Lionel Shriver on being a "news-aholic", though currently most of the bylines belong to Montgomerie himself. 

Guidelines for contributors, also meant to reflect the site's "values", contain some sensible advice. This includes breaking down ideas into bullet points, thinking about who is likely to read and promote articles, and footnoting facts. 

The guidelines also suggest focusing on what people will "still want to read in six, 12 or 24 months" and that will "be of interest to someone in Cincinnati or Perth as well as Vancouver or St Petersburg and Cape Town and Edinburgh" – though it's not quite clear how one of Montgomerie's early contributions, a defence of George Osborne's editorship of the Evening Standard, quite fits that global criteria. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the full page comment piece Montgomerie got in Osborne's paper to bemoan the deficiencies of modern media on the day UnHerd launched. 

UnHerd's mascot  – a cow – has also created some confusion, compounded by another line in the writing tips describing it as "a cow, who like our target readers, tends to avoid herds and behave in unmissable ways as a result". At least Montgomerie only picked the second-most famous poster animal for herding behaviour. It could have been a sheep. In any case, the line has since disappeared from the post – suggesting the zoological inadequacy of the metaphor may have been recognised. 

There is one way in which UnHerd perfectly embodies its stated aim of avoiding the new – the idea that we need to address the frenetic nature of modern news has been around for years.

"Slow news" – a more considered approach to what's going on in the world that takes in the bigger picture – has been talked about since at least the beginning of this decade.

In fact, it's been around so long that it has become positively mainstream. That pusher of rolling coverage the BBC has been talking about using slow news to counteract fake news, and Montgomerie's old employers, the Times decided last year to move to publishing digital editions at set points during the day, rather than constantly updating as stories break. Even the Guardian – which has most enthusiastically embraced the crack-cocaine of rolling web coverage, the live blog – also publishes regular long reads taking a deep dive into a weighty subject. 

UnHerd may well find an audience particularly attuned to its approach and values. It intends to introduce paid services – an especially good idea given the perverse incentives to chase traffic that come with relying on digital advertising. The ethos it is pitching may well help persuade people to pay, and I don't doubt Montgomerie will be able to find good writers who will deal with big ideas in interesting ways. 

But the idea UnHerd is offering a groundbreaking solution to information overload is faintly ludicrous. There are plenty of ways for people to disengage from the news cycle – and plenty of sources of information and good writing that allow people to do it while staying informed. It's just that given so many opportunities to stay up to date with what has just happened, few people decide they would rather not know.