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 deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons
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Donald Trump brings home his dark vision of America at the Republican convention

The Presidential nominee pledged: "Safety must be restored."

Donald Trump brought home the Republican convention Thursday night with a dark vision of contemporary America – a darkness he claimed only his leadership could lift. It was a lengthy, tightly-scripted speech framed around polarities – insiders and outsiders, criminals and victims, the United States and the rest of the world – and infused with righteous anger. And yet against the darkness, he offered not lightness but “greatness” – a bombastic, personalistic vision of how through sheer force of will he could right the American ship before it plunged irretrievably into the depths. “I alone can solve,” he famously tweeted earlier in the campaign. This was the 80-minute version.

Any presidential challenger, of course, has to lay out a set of problems they believe need fixing and a case for why their leadership might make a difference. It was the breathtaking scale and intensity of Trump’s diagnosis, and the lack of optimistic alternative to counterbalance it, that was notable compared to other acceptance speeches. He portrayed the United States as a country riddled with crime and corruption, a “rigged system” in which politicians like Hillary Clinton can evade justice, while police officers trying to protect its citizens become targets; a fearful country, its economy sluggish, its infrastructure crumbling, its security an illusion, and its international stature in freefall

For a candidate who has mocked the soaring rhetoric of President Obama (the “hopey-changey stuff,” as Sarah Palin once called it), it was perhaps not surprising that Trump’s speech would be short on uplift. It was at least more disciplined than his other campaign speeches, if in keeping with their tone and content – the much-maligned teleprompter rolling a script to which he largely stuck. (“He sounds presidential,” a lady behind me remarked, though his press conference Friday morning marked a reversion to free-wheeling form).

It was short on substance too, though acceptance speeches aren’t designed to be policy laundry lists like a State of the Union. Still, there were few specifics, beyond a pledge to revise tax laws which inhibit religious groups from political advocacy, and a newfound concern with student loans. It was daughter Ivanka’s speech that had the greater substantive heft, promising her father would push for new labour laws to help working mothers, and for affordable childcare in the US. Neither are traditional Republican positions, but the crowd seemed on board for anything Trump might offer.

He even had them cheering for LGBTQ rights, after recalling the tragedy in Florida last month, and the need to protect gay Americans from a “hateful foreign ideology” in radical Islam. “It is so nice as a Republican to hear you cheering for what I just said,” he commended the delegates in an unscripted moment. But whether they had really embraced this unexpected message – or if it was the anti-terror chaser that really got them on their feet – remains to be seen. In either case, it was a rare grace note in an otherwise bruising speech.

Presenting himself repeatedly as the candidate of “law and order,” Trump evoked Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign. At a time when American cities were erupting in race riots and protests over the Vietnam War, Nixon had pitched himself as the face of stability and security. Likewise Trump has reacted to the simmering racial tensions and terrorist attacks this summer with a hard-line stance on “lawlessness.” “Safety must be restored,” Trump said, in one of the eerier lines he delivered. Yet in his convention speech, Nixon had balanced his tough talk with a positive message – speaking of love, courage, and lighting a “lamp of hope” in partnership with the American people. 

Trump channeled another president in his speech, too, when he promised to give voice to “the forgotten men and women of our country” – drawing on the language of Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt had promised to aid “the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid” during the 1932 campaign. But Roosevelt’s solution to the forgotten man’s distress was economic internationalism – tearing down tariff walls and trading freely with the world – which the Republican Party then opposed. Trump’s solution is the protectionist policies Roosevelt had railed against.

Trump’s economic and security philosophy is encapsulated in another, more notorious phrase associated with that era: “America First.” A rallying cry for isolationists seeking to avoid US entanglement in World War II, it acquired an anti-Semitic taint. But Trump has employed it nonetheless, capturing as it does his core argument that America must do more to protect its own citizens against threats from within and without – from illegal immigrants, from radicalized Islamic terrorists, from the downsides of free international trade. Little wonder that former George W.

Bush staffer Nicolle Wallace announced that the Republican party she knew “died in this room tonight.” In embracing elements of isolationism, protectionism, and nativism, however, it is perhaps truer to say that Trump’s Republican party reverted to an earlier form.

Often disconcerting, at times mesmerizing, the question remains how effective this speech will be. The delegates responded enthusiastically to Trump’s fierce rhetoric, but many prominent Republicans had stayed away from the convention altogether. Combined with Senator Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement, Trump goes into the general election campaign without a fully united party behind him. For both partisans and the public, Trump’s speech offered a cast of villains to rally against, but no positive, unifying vision to rally behind – beyond the much-touted yet elusive “greatness,” of course. In a typical election year, that would seem a critical flaw in a campaign – but Trump loves to confound the naysayers. As his convention speech showed, he thinks the formula that got him this far - showcasing his fame and fanning Americans’ fears – can land him in the White House.