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.

John Moore
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The man who created the fake Tube sign explains why he did it

"We need to consider the fact that fake news isn't always fake news at the source," says John Moore.

"I wrote that at 8 o'clock on the evening and before midday the next day it had been read out in the Houses of Parliament."

John Moore, a 44-year-old doctor from Windsor, is describing the whirlwind process by which his social media response to Wednesday's Westminster attack became national news.

Moore used a Tube-sign generator on the evening after the attack to create a sign on a TfL Service Announcement board that read: "All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us we will drink tea and jolly well carry on thank you." Within three hours, it had just fifty shares. By the morning, it had accumulated 200. Yet by the afternoon, over 30,000 people had shared Moore's post, which was then read aloud on BBC Radio 4 and called a "wonderful tribute" by prime minister Theresa May, who at the time believed it was a genuine Underground sign. 

"I think you have to be very mindful of how powerful the internet is," says Moore, whose viral post was quickly debunked by social media users and then national newspapers such as the Guardian and the Sun. On Thursday, the online world split into two camps: those spreading the word that the sign was "fake news" and urging people not to share it, and those who said that it didn't matter that it was fake - the sentiment was what was important. 

Moore agrees with the latter camp. "I never claimed it was a real tube sign, I never claimed that at all," he says. "In my opinion the only fake news about that sign is that it has been reported as fake news. It was literally just how I was feeling at the time."

Moore was motivated to create and post the sign when he was struck by the "very British response" to the Westminster attack. "There was no sort of knee-jerk Islamaphobia, there was no dramatisation, it was all pretty much, I thought, very calm reporting," he says. "So my initial thought at the time was just a bit of pride in how London had reacted really." Though he saw other, real Tube signs online, he wanted to create his own in order to create a tribute that specifically epitomised the "very London" response. 

Yet though Moore insists he never claimed the sign was real, his caption on the image - which now has 100,800 shares - is arguably misleading. "Quintessentially British..." Moore wrote on his Facebook post, and agrees now that this was ambiguous. "It was meant to relate to the reaction that I saw in London in that day which I just thought was very calm and measured. What the sign was trying to do was capture the spirit I'd seen, so that's what I was actually talking about."

Not only did Moore not mean to mislead, he is actually shocked that anyone thought the sign was real. 

"I'm reasonably digitally savvy and I was extremely shocked that anyone thought it was real," he says, explaining that he thought everyone would be able to spot a fake after a "You ain't no muslim bruv" sign went viral after the Leytonstone Tube attack in 2015. "I thought this is an internet meme that people know isn't true and it's fine to do because this is a digital thing in a digital world."

Yet despite his intentions, Moore's sign has become the centre of debate about whether "nice" fake news is as problematic as that which was notoriously spread during the 2016 United States Presidential elections. Though Moore can understand this perspective, he ultimately feels as though the sentiment behind the sign makes it acceptable. 

"I use the word fake in inverted commas because I think fake implies the intention to deceive and there wasn't [any]... I think if the sentiment is ok then I think it is ok. I think if you were trying to be divisive and you were trying to stir up controversy or influence people's behaviour then perhaps I wouldn't have chosen that forum but I think when you're only expressing your own emotion, I think it's ok.

"The fact that it became so-called fake news was down to other people's interpretation and not down to the actual intention... So in many interesting ways you can see that fake news doesn't even have to originate from the source of the news."

Though Moore was initially "extremely shocked" at the reponse to his post, he says that on reflection he is "pretty proud". 

"I'm glad that other people, even the powers that be, found it an appropriate phrase to use," he says. "I also think social media is often denigrated as a source of evil and bad things in the world, but on occasion I think it can be used for very positive things. I think the vast majority of people who shared my post and liked my post have actually found the phrase and the sentiment useful to them, so I think we have to give social media a fair judgement at times and respect the fact it can be a source for good."

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.