Most potential candidates declared their interest in running for the Labour leadership weeks ago, but there is now a new name in the mix: Jeremy Corbyn.
MP for Islington North since 1983, Corbyn is a well-known figure on the left of the party, an ardent socialist and serial rebel who has been involved in the CND, the Stop the War Coalition and writes for the Morning Star.
News of Corbyn’s leadership intentions reached Twitter this week, with the New Statesman contributor and Daily Mirror associate editor tweeting the story:
Jeremy Corbyn running for Labour leader from the Left. Widens the debate but suspect he’ll struggle for 35 nominations
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) June 3, 2015
Corbyn told the Islington Tribune:
This decision to stand is in response to an overwhelming call by Labour members who want to see a broader range of candidates and a thorough debate about the future of the party. I am standing to give Labour party members a voice in this debate.
I have yet to hear back from Corbyn for comment.
As Labour has come increasingly under fire from members and some MPs for failing to field a leftwing candidate, Corbyn would provide an alternative voice in the contest, for which Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Mary Creagh have declared. These figures have variously been accused of reheated Blairism or being too associated with Labour’s time in government to provide a fresh answer to the party’s problems.
The difficulty for Corbyn is that he has probably declared too late to pick up the 35 MPs’ signatures required to make the ballot paper. Andy Burnham, the unions’ favourite candidate, has already picked up over 50 names, some of whom may have backed Corbyn were he to have stated his intentions earlier in the race.
Corbyn would have a shot at being nominated were Burnham to lend some of his signatures, as David Miliband did for Diane Abbott in 2010, to broaden the contest. However, what with the unions and some ordinary Labour members lusting for a leftier candidate, this may be too much of a risk for Burnham’s team to take. Compared to his rivals in the contest, he is the candidate of the left – it is unlikely he would want to dilute his leftwing support.
But the Morning Star‘s parliamentary correspondent suggests Corbyn’s backers believe he can make the ballot:
Jeremy Corbyn will announce he’s standing for the Labour leadership tomorrow. Supporters think they have 30 of the 35 nominations needed
— Luke James (@LEJ88) June 3, 2015