Latest from Labour Leadership Race

After the longest of phoney wars, voting is finally getting underway in Labour’s leadership election. We’ve had more hustings, an argument over corporate funding and questions about trans rights.

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LONDON (Labour Buzz)- The bookies still have Starmer as the runaway favourite. In an interview on Sky News, Kay Burley suggested his rivals were not even in his rear-view mirror. However, while most polls have the former Director of Public Prosecutions out in front, the most recent were in January. Much may have changed and there is still room for a surprise. 

Best of rivals  

Keir Starmer has committed to having both his rivals on his front bench. Having previously refused to ‘jostle for position,’ he made the commitment at the latest in a long line of very friendly leadership hustings. Both Long Bailey and Nandy have also made the same commitment. 

“I would happily offer both these candidates a top job in the Shadow Cabinet and I’d happily serve them if they wanted me to do the same.”

Funding issues

Meanwhile, Starmer has faced criticism after claims his campaign had been funded by huge donations from corporations. Opponents called on him to reveal the source of his funding.

Party Chairman Ian Lavery said all candidates must be ‘comfortable disclosing the origin of their donations’, before ballot cards went out. 

Starmer responded by calling for unity and an end to ‘in fighting’, although he stopped short of offering any transparency on where his funding has actually come from. 

His description of those who raised concerns as ‘outriders’ has also not gone down well. 

Aspirational socialism 

Long Bailey continues to promote what she calls ‘aspirational socialism’. Speaking in Peterborough she promised to build 100,000 council homes a year and called on her rivals to do the same. 

“If you want millions of people to realise their dream of a secure, quality home in their community that doesn’t cost the earth and you want Labour to proudly argue for a council house building boom, then I’m your woman,” she said. 

Long Bailey also said she would offer Jeremy Corbyn a place in the Shadow Cabinet if she won the election. Corbyn for his part has said he will serve in any capacity asked in a move which will please supporters but might alarm centrists. His stance differs from John McDonnel and Diane Abbot who have both said they will step down from the shadow cabinet.  

Trans rights

Lisa Nandy has said the wording of a pledge to protect trans rights gave her pause for thought. The pledge, which she and other candidates signed, promised to expel any member who exhibited bigoted or anti trans views. 

Controversially, the pledge names Woman’s Place which backs biological sex as a trans exclusionist hate group. Speaking on Sophie Ridge’s program, she said she felt uncomfortable about the description of woman’s place as a hate group but had signed the pledge because she agreed with the general sentiment. 

And what about the deputy? 

Angela Raynor still appears on course to win the deputy leadership battle. However, the party has still managed to find some controversy. 

Dawn Butler was criticised for an ‘unhelpful’ Tweet in which she called for any MP who publicly undermines the leader to be suspended. 

The row over trans rights spilled over into a LGBT+ hustings in Manchester. Angela Raynor described herself as being ‘upset’ by comments made by Tony Blair over trans rights. The former Prime Minister urged the party not to become a ‘pressure group’ over the issue. 

“For me it was like ‘leadership shouldn't talk about this’ - you don't choose your battles, transgender women haven't chosen to be in the middle of a battle,” she said. “It's not about a political football, it's people's lives.”

Tweets of the week 

Full marks to all the people trying to spice up the hashtag game with #randyfornandy



(Written by Tom Cropper, edited by Michael O'Sullivan)

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