Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
6 January 2020updated 07 Jan 2020 9:28am

Has Angela Rayner already won the Labour deputy leadership election?

The shadow education secretary assembled an impressive coalition of support for her campaign launch today.

By George Grylls

Amid the noise of the Labour leadership contest you could be forgiven for forgetting that there are two vacancies at the top of the party. Not only will a new captain be appointed to navigate the good ship Labour through the choppy waters of the 2020s, but a chief shipmate will join them on deck after Tom Watson’s pre-election resignation

The rules that govern the deputy leadership contest are the same as for the leadership. Candidates require nominations from 10 per cent of Labour MPs and MEPs (22) and either 5 per cent of Constituency Labour Parties or three affiliated organisations (two of which must be trade unions). 

Ian Murray (Labour’s sole Scottish MP), Conor McGinn, Richard Burgon and David Lammy have all previously hinted at running. But Rayner has now joined Dawn Butler and Khalid Mahmood in formally entering the contest. 

In truth, the deputy election already resembles a one-horse race. Rayner launched her campaign in a Stockport community centre, near where she grew up, and a number of local MPs, including Jonathan Reynolds and Lucy Powell, attended the event. 

Rayner’s early backers reflect the diversity of her support —  Powell nominated Andy Burnham in 2015 (as did Rayner) and Reynolds backed Liz Kendall. Almost immediately after the launch, watching from afar, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth also tweeted his support — he endorsed Yvette Cooper four years ago.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

What could yet hinder Rayner is her close relationship with her Corbynite flatmate Rebecca Long-Bailey (who endorsed Rayner for deputy in her recent Guardian piece). Should the latter’s leadership campaign flounder, the fall-out could have implications for the former.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them

However, at her launch, Rayner distanced herself from her close friend, making only a brief reference to Long-Bailey in her speech, and, when asked who she wanted to win the leadership contest, replying: “I’d work with any of them.” Rayner has laid solid foundations for a campaign that could withstand whatever tumult is thrown up by the leadership contest.