Margaret Beckett, pictured here during her time as Environment Secretary. Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

Margaret Beckett writes to fellow Labour MPs urging them to back Angela Eagle for the deputy leadership

Former deputy leader Margaret Beckett has endorsed Angela Eagle's bid for the deputy leadership.

Margaret Beckett, a former deputy leader of the Labour Party, Foreign Secretary and MP for Derby North, has written to members of the PLP urging them to give their support to Angela Eagle in her bid for the deputy leadership. Eagle has the support of just 22 MPs, well short of the 35 she needs. But the support of Beckett, a well-respected veteran - she is the only MP to have served in the Labour governments of Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan and of Tony Blair - may provide Eagle with a much-needed boost.

With both Tom Watson and Caroline Flint already on the ballot - Watson has 59 while Flint has 38 names - the candidate nearest to the ballot is Creasy, with 25 names. The Creasy campaign say privately that they are close to securing 35 names. Rushanara Ali, who has 24 signatures, would be the only ethnic minority candidate in either the leadership or deputy leadership race, and is likely to secure enough support to qualify on that basis. Both Eagle and Ben Bradshaw, who has just 21 nominations, are unlikely to make the ballot.

The full letter is below.

 

Dear colleague,
I've seen that you've not yet nominated in the Deputy Leadership
contest, and I just wanted to ask you if you'll help Angela Eagle get over
the line.
I've worked with Angela for a number of years, both on the Labour Party
NEC and in the PLP. What I've seen has really impressed me.
She's a straight talker, and I know as Deputy she'll act without fear
or favour.
She's a good advocate for our policies within the Labour movement and
in the media.
She's a champion for women's equality and for LGBT rights - and
someone needs to pick up Harriet's mantle.
And she is the experienced choice in this election, which really matters
at such a time of uncertainty.
It is important that members have a chance to vote for Angela in
this election, and it is important that we go in to this election with
the widest possible choice.
She needs just a few more nominations to make it on to the ballot -
please consider giving her your support.

Best wishes,

Margaret Beckett

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.