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13 January 2020

Evening Call: Five candidates apiece for Labour’s leadership and deputy races

Clive Lewis alone doesn’t make the next stage. 

By Jonn Elledge

It’s on! The parliamentary stage of the Labour leadership contest is over and five candidates have won the 22 nominations from MPs/MEPs required to proceed to the next round. They are, with their number of nominations in brackets: Keir Starmer (89) and Rebecca Long-Bailey (33), the two widely seen as the frontrunners; as well as Lisa Nandy (31), Jess Phillips (23) and Emily Thornberry (23).

There were six candidates a few hours ago – so who have we lost? RIP Clive Lewis, the shadow Treasury minister and MP for Norwich South, always in our hearts. Lewis quit the race with less than an hour to go, on the grounds he only had five supporters and wasn’t going to make it over the line. This created an opportunity for five to recast their votes, enabling Thornberry to make it through to the next stage, with mere minutes to spare. Not that this means anything (it really doesn’t, I just find it interesting), but: the last person who made it onto a Labour leadership ballot with mere minutes to spare was one Jeremy Corbyn.

While we’re here, there are also five candidates for the deputy leadership: Angela Rayner (88 nominations), Ian Murray (34), Dawn Butler (29), Rosena Allin-Khan (23) and, bringing up the rear, Richard Burgon (who just scraped on with 22). That’s everyone who threw their hats into the ring.

The next stage of both contests will require candidates to get nominations either from 33 Constituency Labour Parties; or three affiliate organisations, of which two must be trade unions, representing between them at least 5 per cent of the affiliate membership. Only after that will the membership get their say, with the result due on 4 April.

Three months are, it’s worth noting, a long time for Labour to be distracted from the world beyond its own navel. Brexit is due to finally happen at the end of this month and discussion will then move onto trade talks. The Iran situation seems to have quietened down for the moment, but it’d be foolish to imagine it couldn’t flare up again.

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And in early May the UK is due to hold a major round of local elections, including those for the London mayoralty and metro-mayors in Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region, the West Midlands, and the Tees Valley. (For reasons I’m not 100 per cent clear on, if I’m honest, the terms of the West of England and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoralties, despite starting at the same time as those other four metro mayoralties, still have another year to run.) At another time, Labour would be looking to make gains in the last two of these, both of which were won by the Tories in 2017.

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Yet the party is going to be focusing its energies on its internal battles until barely a month before the elections – and in the West Midlands, the biggest prize of all, it hasn’t even selected a candidate. Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition plays an important role in the British constitution. And for the next few months, when we need it more than ever, it’s not clear it’s a role the Labour Party will have the capacity to play.

Good day for…

White men, who are continuing their unbroken record of several centuries of good days. The cause today: the shortlist for this year’s Oscars is under fire for being both too pale and too male. The awards for best acting have excluded a lot of non-white talent, while the academy preferred Joker to Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. More from our film critic Ryan Gilbey here.

Bad day for…

US senator Cory Booker, who is suspending his presidential campaign due to a lack of money. He follows fellow Democratic candidate Kamala Harris, who stood down last month, in leaving what was meant to be the most diverse primary field of all time increasingly dominated by mostly old, mostly male white people. Yaaay.

Quote of the day

“I’m standing aside in the spirit of pluralism, diversity and generosity that I’ve promoted throughout this campaign, so that those who have supported me can recast their nominations.”

Clive Lewis, accepting the inevitable and abandoning his Labour leadership campaign.

Everyone is talking about…

ITV’s Love Island, which was absolutely inescapable on social media last night and this morning after only seeming to be away for about 20 minutes. (Honestly, the number of people who slid seamlessly from debating whether to watch it at all to tweeting furiously about it for several hours was truly concerning.)

Love Island is frankly not my thing (don’t have the abs for it), but here are a pair of great pieces the NS has published on it in the past: Sarah on how the show became a phenomenon; and Anna on what watching Love Island actually feels like.

Everyone should be talking about…

The radicalisation of incels – that is, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, young men whose lack of romantic success (“involuntarily celibate”) has led them to talk about themselves as if they’re an oppressed minority.

Our brilliant social media editor Ellie has written a great piece about how some men have developed worryingly misogynistic ideologies after analysing their Tinder data.


Questions? Comments? Drop me an email.

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