The Labour leadership result is even more important now than it was before the pandemic
Yes, the Labour leadership announcement is still going ahead this weekend. And the result matters even more now than it did before the coronavirus outbreak.
It’s hard to believe that, just a few months ago, Brexit dominated the headlines.
Since the 2016 referendum, we’ve had three prime ministers, two general elections and a lot of political friction. But the United Kingdom left the European Union at 11 pm on 31 January 2020.
This led Jeremy Corbyn to announce that he is stepping down from being the Labour party leader. The race has been on to find his replacement ever since. Lisa Nandy, Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey are the three candidates left in the running. Despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the results will still be delivered and a new leader announced on Saturday 4 April.
It’s important to recognise that now, perhaps more than ever, the election of a new Labour leader is crucial. This is going to be the person who holds Boris Johnson and his government to account while this pandemic plays out – which we know is going to be for quite a while.
They will ask what’s being done for domestic abuse victims, following news that Refuge reported a 65% increase in calls to its helpline last Saturday compared with the same day the previous week. And they will seek answers on what support is in place for people who have lost their jobs and homes.
And once the pandemic subsides, the leader will be a pivotal figure in the nation getting back on its feet to create a new “normal”. Oh, and there are still Brexit negotiations to be sorted out.
It could also be the first time in history that a woman is elected Labour party leader.
So, with all this in mind, here’s everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s results.
Is a new Labour leader still being elected?
Yes. The polls have now closed on Labour’s leadership election, and the result will be announced via a press release at 10:45 am on Saturday morning. The special party conference has of course been cancelled because of coronavirus. A new leader and deputy leader will both be named.
All three leadership candidates have been asked to pre-record a victory speech and the winner’s will be sent out for the public to watch at home. The winner will then immediately take over from Jeremy Corbyn.
Who will win the Labour leadership?
Nandy wants to shake up Labour and has said it must “change or die”. Originally considered a long shot, she has received support from the GMB and the Jewish Labour Movement.
Speaking to Stylist earlier this year, the Wigan MP said she wanted to see a wealth tax raise to bring them in line with income taxes and help properly fund a different settlement on the NHS. She also wants to create a proper definition of what constitutes an affordable home. And she wants us to be a nation that looks after and supports people’s mental health with no stigma around asking for help.
Read the full interview here.
Sir Starmer is the shadow Brexit secretary and MP for Holborn and St Pancras. According to YouGov polls, he is also the frontrunner in the labour leadership race.
Speaking to Stylist earlier this year, Starmer said that he would lead the party with a strong team of women, explaining: “I’m not doing this for them – I’m doing it with them.” He also said the government needs to do a lot of cross-party work to address the Domestic Abuse Bill. And he said the problem about the future of the NHS can only be solved by integrating health with social care and mental health care.
Read the full interview here.
Corbyn supporter and left-winger Long-Bailey is the MP for Salford and Eccles and shadow business secretary. She is backed by Labour’s left campaign group Momentum, trade union Unite the Union and senior Labour figures including Ian Lavery and John McDonnell.
Long-Bailey said the party needs a “proud socialist leader” driven by their principles and “unwavering determination”. She has voiced her unequivocal support for transgender women. And she recently wrote an opinion piece saying the NHS “needs more support through increased funding and kicking out the privatisers”. She also said the NHS model works and “we should look to apply it to more of the challenges of our time”.
Long-Bailey was unavailable for interview with Stylist.
What about the new deputy leadership results?
A new deputy leader will also replace Tom Watson after Saturday’s result. Angela Rayner is favourite to win, and she is running against Dawn Butler, Rosena Allin-Khan (who is also currently working as an NHS doctor), Richard Burgon and Ian Murray.
The new leader and deputy probably never thought they’d inherit a pandemic. It’s the ultimate test for any member of parliament right now. That’s why, even though it’s exhausting to keep up with the news at this time, it’s important we keep a close eye on what happens with this result.
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