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22 January 2020

Lisa Nandy joins Keir Starmer on the Labour leadership ballot

Chinese for Labour have given the Wigan MP her third affiliate endorsement – and with it a place in the final round. 

By Patrick Maguire

And then there were two: Lisa Nandy has qualified for the final round of the Labour leadership contest after securing the nomination of Chinese for Labour, her all-important third affiliate endorsement.

Having won the nomination of the GMB yesterday – her second trade union endorsement after the National Union of Mineworkers – Nandy was always likelier than not to qualify via the affiliate route, and so it has proved. And, as I wrote on Monday evening, Chinese for Labour was always the likeliest of the 20 socialist societies then undeclared to put her through.

Why? Sarah Owen, who until last month sat on Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee for the GMB, is chair of Chinese for Labour. She is also a friend and early parliamentary supporter of Nandy, who seized the advantage. At the organisation’s annual gala dinner on Monday night, she was one of only two leadership candidates who spoke in person. Small affiliates have a disproportionate power as of this year’s leadership election, and Nandy is the candidate who has wielded it to her advantage.

Her qualification for the ballot – where she joins Keir Starmer – comes earlier than anyone in Labour would have expected last month, when Nandy emerged as one of the longer shots to succeed Jeremy Corbyn. For that reason, it will only add to the growing consensus at Westminster that hers is the campaign with all the momentum. She has beaten Rebecca Long-Bailey both in MP nominations and now affiliates. And with Jess Phillips out of the race, she is now the unquestioned owner of the message that Labour must change or die.

But who has most to fear from her rise? Both Starmer and Long-Bailey’s campaigns have always been alive to the risks of a Nandy candidacy – particularly the former. Each will now be hoping that they are the net beneficiary – or, in Starmer’s case, that she has emerged too late into the consciousness of the selectorate to overturn his commanding poll lead.

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