Candidates & Betting Odds For Next Labour Party Leader
December 19, 2019
Following the disastrous showing of the Labour Party in the recent General Election, we must ask ourselves if sitting Labour MPs view a leadership bid as a golden opportunity to further their political ambitions or a poisoned chalice? There is speculation that, having lost the last three general elections, the Labour Party is in such a parlous state that it may take a decade to recover its reputation with the voting public.
The party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been extremely unpopular with voters, scoring the lowest net satisfaction ratings of any opposition leader since the 1970’s. Corbyn has indicated his intention to stand down as leader, and may return to the backbenches to focus on his role as Member of Parliament for Islington by Easter 2020.
There is a clamour within the Labour Party for an early leadership contest and the process is expected to commence on 7 January. Contenders will be required to secure a place on the ballot paper through the support of 21 fellow MP’s or 10% of the parliamentary Labour Party. Additionally, they need the backing of either 5% of constituencies or 5% of affiliates (being Trade Unions and socialist societies). Once this starting point is achieved, party members and registered supporters vote in a process administered by the National Executive Committee.
Despite the challenges facing the Labour Party, there is no shortage of candidates expected to throw their hats into the ring. Keir Starmer, 57-year old shadow Brexit Secretary, is said to be “seriously considering” putting himself forward and contends that, despite Labour’s heavy defeat at the polls, “the case for a bold and radical Labour government is as strong as it was last Thursday (day of General Election). We need to anchor ourselves to that”. Bookmaker BetFred places the MP for Holborn and St Pancras as favourite to be the next Labour Party leader, offering odds of 9/4.
The Labour Party has never had a female Leader but this may change very soon, as a number of likely candidates for Leader are women. Rebecca Long-Bailey, MP for Salford, is currently shadow Business Secretary and bookies Ladbrokes offer best odds of 7/4 that she will become Leader. The 40-year old daughter of a docker, she has the support of John McDonnell, shadow Chancellor, and many others within the party who admire her left wing values. Her friend and flat-mate, Angela Rayner (shadow Education Secretary and MP for Ashton-under-Lyme), is expected to run as Deputy Leader – the so-called “Dream Ticket” for ardent Corbynistas.
Backbenchers Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips are also expected to be contenders. Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, appeared on Newsnight after the election results and refused at that early point to confirm her candidature, saying “I’m going to take a little bit of time. I’m going to listen to what they (voters) have to say and, if I genuinely believe that I can understand the root to regaining the trust of lifelong Labour voters who felt that they not only couldn’t vote Labour but actually voted Tory this time around then, yes, of course I would do it”. Bookmaker William Hill reckons the 40-year old will stand and offers odds of 9/2 that she will be the next Leader. Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, is also considering her options. The 38-year old is regarded as highly talented and an excellent communicator. Betfair offers odds of 16/1 that she will be the new Labour Leader.
Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, has also announced this week that she is entering the leadership race. The 59-year old Member of Parliament for Islington South and Finsbury has a high profile with the public and is known for her bombastic approach (recently threatening former MP Caroline Flint with legal action for “making up shit” … that Thornberry called Leave voters stupid). She asserts that the first question for the new Leader should be “what is your plan for taking on Boris Johnson over the next five years”. We would all like to know the answer to that! The British public will be keen to see an effective Leader of the Opposition who will challenge the Conservative government in Parliament and provide an effective check and balance within the Parliamentary structure.