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

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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