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17 June 2015

From a two-horse race to a free-for-all: what does it mean for the deputy leadership race?

The Labour deputy leadership race has gone from a foregone conclusion to a free-for-all. How did it happen?

By Stephen Bush

With 25 minutes to go, the deputy leadership election was a two-horse race. Stella Creasy had just five names to go, but just nineteen MPs were left to nominate. Angela Eagle was nine short, Ben Bradshaw 10 short, Rushanara Ali short by 11. All were mathematically in reach, but in the words of one insider “no hope at all now”. 

Then Ali changed everything. “Rushanara deserves a huge amount of credit,” said Chuka Umunna, who switched his nomination from Ali to Creasy after the former dropped out to allow the other candidates to make the ballot.

More impressively still, she didn’t, in the words of one Bradshaw supporter “slink off and lick her wounds”: Ali and her supporters roamed the chamber searching for colleagues to get Bradshaw, Eagle and Creasy on the ballot. Supporters of other candidates also leant their nominations. Ivan Lewis, who is supporting Caroline Flint, gave his nomination to Creasy, saying it would have been “impossible to justify preventing Stella from putting her case to Labour Party members”. 

A field of two is now a field of five. The preferential voting system makes it all but impossible to predict who will win, but Ali, who will not be in the race, has likely already done enough to secure a return to the frontbench when the new leader takes office. 

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