Lisa Nandy: "I don't want to be Labour leader"

Shadow energy secretary says she does not have "a secret plan to go and kick Jeremy out of his office".

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Lisa Nandy has said that she does not want to be Labour leader and that she hasn't got "a secret plan to go and kick Jeremy [Corbyn] out of his office". In an interview with the New Statesman, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, who is the third favourite to succeed Corbyn, commented: "It wasn’t my ambition to do it, I don’t want to be leader of the Labour Party. I love the job that I have now, I love the fact that I can work with a broad range of people, that I have freedom and space to try and make things happen and make things work and try and solve one of the biggest challenges that we have. I don’t have my eye on Jeremy’s office or No.10". 

The Wigan MP was encouraged by some to stand in the 2015 Labour leadership election and is privately spoken of by MPs as a potential "soft left" candidate who could unite the party. Asked whether she was permanently ruling out a bid, Nandy replied: "I genuinely don’t want to do it, that’s not what I’ve got in my mind." She joked: "I haven’t got a secret plan to go and kick Jeremy [Corbyn] out of his office. I think he can rest easy - for now. We’ll see, see if I pull out a secret plan in a few years’ time." 

Nandy emphasised that "there’s lot of different ways you can play your part" and said "where I’ve ended up right now feels like the most exciting place to be". She added: "I do feel definitely on the left that we need to remember that nothing worth doing was ever done alone and that it’s only through collaboration, collective enterprise, organising and solidarity that we’re actually going to change this country, which is in the end why you want to do it." Nandy, who entered parliament in 2010, spoke of how her generation of politicians were "the first who came in who didn’t think of this as a job for life but thought of it as an opportunity and a platform and a way of changing things, potentially for a limited amount of time. It gives a dynamism to this place that I think is very different. It’s quite exciting because everywhere you look there are people using different tools to change things and that’s what I’m going to do wherever I end up. But I haven’t got my eye on being leader, you can underline that, just to be clear."

Nandy's response contrasts with that of Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, who told the New Statesman earlier this month that it would be "an incredible honour and privilege" to be leader The Pontypridd MP is similarly spoken of by MPs as a possible soft left candidate. Many in Labour believe that any successor to Corbyn could not be drawn from the party's right. Dan Jarvis, the favourite to be the next leader, recently told the Guardian that he regretted not giving "more thought" to standing last year. In a New Statesman article earlier this month, the Barnsley Central MP and former paratrooper warned: "Until Labour accepts the lessons of two successive election defeats ... we will not renew our politics and reconnect with the public."

George Eaton is senior online editor of the New Statesman.

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