Today Lisa Nandy caught up with Jess Phillips’s PLP nominations. Both are now hovering in the low twenties – far behind Keir Starmer’s 60 or so nominations – but not a million miles from the 27 MPs currently backing Rebecca Long-Bailey.
There are some interesting clues hidden in and amongst the candidates’ nominations. Perhaps the most revelatory – and least reported – nomination was yesterday’s decision by Sarah Owen to back Lisa Nandy.
Just signed my nomination paper for @lisanandy a strong, BAME woman who as Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine & Middle East is a powerful advocate for human rights and she understands the needs of towns like Luton. Lisa deserves to be part of this debate & on the ballot paper. pic.twitter.com/1wLg2EO0fy
— Sarah Owen (@SarahOwen_) January 9, 2020
Sarah Owen was only elected a month ago, replacing Kelvin Hopkins as MP for Luton North. However she has been a prominent voice in the party for some time thanks to her position on the NEC. Until last week Owen represented GMB — the UK’s third-largest union after Unison and Unite.
Now that Starmer, Long-Bailey, Nandy and Phillips have all cleared the required PLP nominations to get on the ballot, they can safely turn their attention to the next hurdle: the support of either 5 per cent of CLPs or three affiliates (two of which must be trades unions).
At the start of the campaign, it seemed a given that the big unions would pair up with the big candidates. And whilst Keir Starmer has indeed picked up Unison this week, there seems to have been some equivocation at Unite over whether or not to back Rebecca Long-Bailey (at least Ian Lavery and Barry Gardiner’s head-scratching about running seems to suggest as such).
Which brings us on to GMB. The fact that one of the trade union’s former representatives on the NEC has just endorsed Lisa Nandy should probably not go unnoticed.