Rebecca Long-Bailey enters the Labour leadership race

Published by Jonathan White on January 8th 2020, 12:12pm

The shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Rebecca Long-Bailey (Salford & Eccles) has become the sixth candidate to enter the race for the leadership of the Labour Party.

Writing in the left-wing political magazine Tribune, Long-Bailey has set out her stall to the Labour electorate as she seeks to win over her fellow MPs and the membership alike. Her pitch is grounded unashamedly on the left, with Long-Bailey writing that the Labour Party’s task is to “build a winning vision of a socialist future.”

While not officially the candidate of Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North), most commentators and party officials have seen Long-Bailey’s candidacy as the one most in tune with the left of the party and the standard bearer for Corbyn’s most ardent supporters. When interviewed by ITV News and asked how she would rate Mr Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, she replied “10 out of 10.” For his part, Mr Corbyn has declined to endorse any candidate.

However, with her candidacy now being openly supported by key Corbyn allies such as shadow chancellor John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington) and shadow secretary of state for justice Richard Burgon (Leeds East), many on the moderate wing of the party have become vocal in their opposition.

When the former foreign secretary Jack Straw was asked about his thoughts regarding the contest on Sky News, he replied that the “Labour Party needs a true, loyal Corbyn successor like it needs a hole in the head” before going on to add that a “continuity candidate” to Corbyn would be akin to the party “signing a collective suicide note.”

Long-Bailey has also been using her leadership bid to explain why she believes Labour lost in such a “devastating” way. She remains insistent that the problem for the party was less to do with its policies and more to do with its messaging and a “lack of coherent narrative.” In what will be seen as another attack on the Labour right, she said that under her leadership there will be no return to what she described as the “Tory lite” agenda that the claimed held the party back for many years.

With Long-Bailey only having been an MP since 2015, when she replaced the retiring Hazel Blears, her rise through the ranks of the party has been rapid. The question remains as to whether she will be able to reach out beyond her left-wing base and secure a broader support throughout the party.

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Jonathan White
Political Correspondent
January 8th 2020, 12:12pm

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