Who should be the new Labour Leader? The recent general election saw the Labour Party suffer its worst defeat since 1935, as well as its second defeat under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Corbyn has now announced his intention to step down as party leader, but not until the party elects a successor.
So, just who could his successor be?
The race is already well underway, with a number of Labour ministers’ potential contenders to fill the leadership pose. Some popular candidates are Yvette Cooper, a critic of Corbyn and chair of the Home Affairs Committee; Kier Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary and Angela Rayner; shadow education secretary.
This Sunday, each editor will write a piece on which candidate they believe is best suited as the new leader of the Labour Party.
Written by, Emer Kelly.
Right as Rayner, New Leadership Comes From The North – Labour article
It’s been a while since I’ve felt excited about politics. Like many young, remain supporting, left wingers, the last few months have been uninspiring, depressing, and demotivating.
It appears, however, the political currents are changing, and with Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement that he will step down as party leader, the race to replace him has commenced.
Whilst Brexit was a major factor in Labour’s loss of the election, one cannot deny that Jeremy Corbyn was also a contributor. Of course, the media went in hard on the Labour leader, in a similar manner to how they treated Ed Miliband in the build up to the 2015 general election. They seemed to neglect Boris Johnson’s various ‘misdemeanours’ (lying, financial misconduct, racism, homophobia, misogyny etc). But this wasn’t the only reason for Corbyn’s failure; frankly, he was unelectable for a huge part of the electorate.
Disconnected with reality, weak on antisemitism, weak on Brexit, too ‘old school’, the criticisms on the doorsteps were scathing, that is why the Labour party needs a real change in direction if it hopes to inspire the public.
Change, that is what we need, and I believe that there are a couple of stand-out candidates already sticking their heads above the parapet. Female, northern, grounded, and impressive; those are just some of the qualities that my two top choices possess. However, let’s not reduce the future leader of the Labour party to their ‘categories’. I do not support these two women for the sake of being ‘a breath of fresh air’, but rather for their powerful presence, and inspiring sense of principle.
So, without further ado, I want to argue the case for Angela Rayner and Rebecca Long-Bailey, two MPs who are coincidentally best friends! Both women are MPs for Greater Manchester constituencies, Ashton-under-Lyne and Salford and Eccles respectively, and were elected in 2015.
Some may cry that Rayner and Long-Bailey don’t have the experience to be leader, only having been MPs for 4 years so far. I would argue that such critics are missing the point. Jeremy Corbyn had ‘experience’, serving as an MP since 1983, but those extra 32 years hardly helped the Labour party… What is important for our future Labour leader is real life experience, experience of life outside of London, experience of working in the public sector, an understanding of ‘the left behind’ of the UK.
I believe that Angela Rayner ticks all of these boxes, hence she nudges ahead of Rebecca Long-Bailey in my books. A serving shadow cabinet minister since 2016, Rayner left school pregnant at the age of 16 without qualifications, despite this disadvantage, she went on to train as a care worker, and later became a Unison Trade Union representative. It is this experience which formed her support of a National Education Service, which would offer free cradle-to-grave learning. Rayner understands the necessity of education, and how it can transform the lives of those at any age and in any situation, it is a means of empowering the disadvantaged, those who are currently being neglected by an unfit education system.
What is refreshing about Rayner, is her innovation and radical stance on how our society is currently structured, she stands for social change which will transform the UK. Rayner is frequently described as a ‘soft left’ MP. It is a position which grew out of the centrist Labour factions of the mid 1980s, but with strong ties to the historic left. In this way, I believe that Rayner balances sensible radicalism, proposing necessary changes, whilst retaining credibility. Something that Corbyn lost, following the endless announcements of changes to the Labour manifesto just weeks before the election. I am also convinced that Rayner would bring back the trust of working class labour voters to the party, following the loss of ‘the red wall’ in the latest election.
However, having argued for Rayner’s leadership over the last few paragraphs, it is important to note that she has announced that she will step aside for Long-Bailey in the leadership race, instead focusing on the position of deputy leader. Whilst I am dismayed to hear this, Rayner and Long-Bailey are quite a dream ticket for the Labour Party.
Whilst Long-Bailey is more connected to the Corbynite factions of the party than Rayner, I believe that she could be a successful choice for many of the same reasons that I have mentioned above. She could be the way to bring traditional labour voters back from Boris Johnson, whilst also forming a strong and sensible manifesto.
As a duo, Rayner and Long-Bailey could transform the Labour Party, putting equality right at the centre, and working to ensure that ‘the left behind’ are no longer ignored. Whilst the Conservative landslide upsets me deeply, I do hope that it has sent a strong message to Labour, that change is needed, and that it’s heartland can no longer be overlooked.
By Chief Labour editor, Isabella Jewell.
Point of Information
As qualified as they are, it is just not the right time – a Conservative response
Firstly, Miss Jewell makes an interesting point about the experience of Angela Rayner and Rebeca Long-Bailey. The point is that they are relatively inexperienced and I believe this is not wise of the Labour party. As we transition to leave the EU and start the five years of a Conservative government, Labour needs a leader who can truly command their party.
Labour will have to be united as ever to hold an eighty seat majority Conservative government to account. This is why experienced and respected politicians such as, Yvette Cooper and possibly Sir Keith Starmer should take up the mantle. Experience can taint a leader such as Mr Corbyn however, I believe that these two candidates have the experience to help rather than hinder.
I do find Miss Jewell’s arguments compelling and when it comes to real-life true experiences then these two candidates are extremely electable. A double ticket as Miss Jewell’s describes is an interesting prospect and maybe we will start to see a more American-style election ticket? Who knows? But what I do know and believe is that now is not their time.
The Labour party presented the most radical left-wing manifesto and election campaign in recent memory and it was firmly rejected. The Labour party, therefore, needs to take baby steps rather than rushing into something new. As qualified and talented as these two candidates are, I do feel they should wait. Allow a slightly more experienced leader to help navigate the Labour party through its transformation.
Written by Conservative Editor, Jack Kane
I am worried by both these candidates even if they tick the boxes – a Liberal response
In my article, I set out a number of criteria needed for a new candidate. Miss Jewell has done the same and coincidentally we have very similar criteria. However, I think she has chosen extremely poorly here. I don’t think you can describe either of these candidates as ‘soft-left’ and although I think they are strong candidates for sure, possibly the strongest, I worry about their policies.
When I initially heard Miss Jewell would write about Miss Rayner, I was going to say she is too inexperienced. However, I praise Miss Jewell for changing my mind on that. However, calling them ‘soft left’ is a tad off the mark. Both are strong supporters of Corbyn and how tax and nationalise seem to be two buzzwords that set off most voters, I worry they will not be able to connect with voters just as Corbyn wasn’t able to do.
If Rayner showed she was willing to centre, something I don’t think she would do being a ex-trade unionist representative, I would support her. However, this is a massive IF and I think Miss Jewell has latched herself onto the first candidate that has filled her criteria.
Written by Chief Liberal Editor, Max Anderson
Yvette Cooper is the right choice to solve old and new problems – Conservative article
Thank you Jeremy Corbyn. Not how I normally start my articles but this week is a special one. A Conservative government has taken up its seats on the House of Commons with a majority of 80, whilst Labour remains in opposition. This outcome falls directly at Mr Corbyn’s feet and it is right that he steps down. He has failed to deal with anti-Semitism in his party whilst trying to deliver policies which the British public has deemed unelectable. His failure to be clear on Brexit whilst questionable political afflictions has forced him to go. So who’s next?
If we wanted to keep the government to account Labour they need a strong leader and my choice for them should be Yvette Cooper. When Jeremy Corbyn won his first leadership contest in 2015, Yvette Cooper came in third winning a total 17%. Although she came in third I have always liked her. To me, she has always shown a sense of control, humility, strong convictions, pride but most importantly, leadership. This is the key component that is missing from the Labour party and I do think she can deliver this.
So for those who know not so much about her, who is she and what is her stance on political issues? Yvette Cooper is a recipient of the Kennedy scholarship to Harvard as well as a graduate of Oxford University and the London School of Economics. She became the first female Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2008 and in 2001, “became the first minister to take maternity leave.” She is an early example of that women having children will not hinder your career. She has helped bring politics into the 21st century. She also is a wonderful example of women achieving important roles in a pro-dominantly male profession.
So what would Yvette Cooper’s Labour party want to implement if she is able to put Labour into power? She would reverse the Conservative’s anti-austerity measures and would implement her version of providing different levels of support to the welfare state. Mrs Cooper in 2015 wanted to turn Britain into a more hi-tech economy, this would be done by increasing science and research development to 3% of national income. Moving Britain forward in this new scientific age is nothing but good. Miss Cooper can achieve this as she was a supporter of allowing corporation tax to be dropped to 20%. Economically she is reasonable and able to be bi-partisan. Excellent traits in a leader.
Yvette Cooper is also a supporter of the National Living Wage and stated that is she was elected; she would start implementing this by paying this wage to the million care workers. This is a clear act of compassion and it is positive to see. Yet her two most impressive political actions have impressed me the most. Yvette Cooper was able in a day to push through the House of Commons a bill which would prevent a no-deal Brexit. This passed by one vote. She commands confidence and respect in the House which is of utmost importance. Secondly, during the 2015 Labour leadership election, she called out Jeremy Corbyn’s policies calling them “old solutions to old problems.” These old solutions to old problems were deemed unelectable by the electorate and therefore, Mrs Cooper was right. I, therefore, believe that Mrs Cooper can be the new solution to new and old problems.
Written by Conservative Editor, Jack Kane
Point of Information
A respectable candidate, but she is not the one we are looking for – a Liberal response
I like Yvette Cooper. She was one of the few centrists Corbyn could not remove in his purge of the Labour party. However, is she the perfect candidate? I have my doubts. It is a shame but, Labour need a desperate revival and looking back to the past i’m not sure is the right move.
I feel like a broken record but we need another Blair. Someone charismatic with a strong spin-doctor like Alaster Campbell with a new catch-worthy phrase that shouts ‘this is the new Labour’… shame New Labour has been used already.
Despite this, if the new Labour leader is Yvette Cooper, I will have little to complain about. I just worry she won’t be able to gain enough support. The only thing I wish for this Christmas other than a centrist Labour leader, is for Mr Kane to stop going on about the election in our POI articles. You won, well done, champagne has been drunk. Now may we return to politics?
Written by chief Liberal Editor, Max Anderson
Perhaps Cooper is a little too ‘Westminster’…
It is so refreshing to hear a Conservative male argue the case for a powerful female leader of the Labour party. As argued by Mr Kane, Yvette Cooper is an impressive politician, who is both deeply intelligent and compassionate. Clearly these are two highly important criteria for becoming Labour Leader, but I do believe that Cooper is too much of an ‘establishment politician’.
By this description, I do not mean that we need an ‘anti-establishment’ candidate, rather that the public are in need of someone fresh, someone without too much political baggage… This is one of the reasons I support Rayner and Long-Bailey; they have vast amounts of real life experience, and haven’t been tied into the ‘Westminster bubble’ for too long, something which turns off many voters.
Much like Mr Anderson, however, if Yvette Cooper were elected leader, I would still be pleased to see a reasonable and compassionate leader to temper the Corbyn period.
Is this another situation of best of the worst? – Liberal article
As I saw the election polls, there was one thing I took away from it – Jeremy Corbyn will not remain as leader very long. Now, there is an opportunity for Labour to return to the centre, giving us a party that I could actually vote for without having a wasted vote.
As the candidates announced themselves, I was a bit disappointed. It is not to say there are no strong candidates, but there are no perfect candidates, something so desperately needed for Labour to have any chance of winning the next election.
My first hope would be that Sadiq Khan would run. A strong candidate in every aspect, but alas, he has already announced he will not be running. The other candidates don’t exactly will me with joy. I knew we would not find a man as charismatic as Tony Blair, who again, was not without his faults but strong enough to easily win elections.
So who? Well there is a strong list and I am happy to say is dominated by women, something that Tony Blair’s spin doctor Alastair Campbell agreed was needed. The bookies favourite at the moment is not a women, but is Keir Starmer. A strong candidate, who has a Gordon Brown feeling to him. That in itself could mean many things.
He has been a supporter of Corbyn, but some suspect he will return the party to the centre. His failure to be outspoken about which side of the party he will side with might be an attempt to gain votes from both. However, recent accusations involving Wikipedia might stop his bid.
So if not Keir Starmer, who? Well, as much as I want to say Yvette Cooper, I have my doubts that the new generation of Labour supporters won’t have much patience with her.
Lisa Nandy I think has to be my main choice. Not perfect, but still a strong candidate. She would guarantee a return to the centre which, would certainly put a smile on my face. This being said, I do worry. She isn’t that experienced and I cannot imagine her facing up to Boris Johnson too well.
Only time will tell who will end up as leader, but if it is any of these three, it won’t be perfect, but will certainly be better than another candidates with the same extreme left polices.
Written by Chief Liberal Editor, Max Anderson.
Point of Information
A sensible well-respected leader, Yvette Cooper obviously? – a Conservative response
I must agree with Mr Anderson that it is wonderful to see the majority of candidates for the Labour leadership being women. This clearly shows we are on course to create a far more equal world of politics where you are never judged on sex or race.
On this issue, Tony Blair recently stated how wonderful this is, yet it should not be the reason for them to be elected. He says it is all about who is best for the job and this couldn’t be truer.
The Labour party need a leader who is respected across the aisle as well as someone experienced enough to weather Labour through this storm. This why the sensible and sophisticated choice is, Yvette Cooper.
There is no such thing as a perfect candidate Mr Anderson. No candidate will ever be perfect and that must not be forgotten. Furthermore, a perfect candidate is not what Labour needs. Boris Johnson has flaws yet he embraces them and this is why he won the Conservative leadership and a striking mandate to govern the UK.
Labour needs sensible leadership providing policies that are relatable to the British public. There is no hunger for socialism in the UK and a labour leader who accepts this can very likely cause the Conservatives a run for there money. This is why Yvette Cooper is the person to do this.
Written by Chief Conservative editor, Jack Kane
We need change, Blair.2 might not cut it – a Labour response
Mr Anderson’s pessimism surprises me, I am rather excited by the current line-up of candidates, especially compared to the last leadership race. We are currently facing several reasonable, likeable, and sensible politicians, all of whom are more electable across the board than Corbyn.
Kier Starmer would be a solid choice; he is a strong politician, who could ‘stand up to Johnson’, having been a barrister and ex–director of public prosecutions. Clearly he ticks several boxes, as Mr Anderson argues, however I do wonder if he is too disconnected from the electorate given his City background and the millionaire debacle to be elected… Mr Anderson is wise to note this might be his undoing.
Whilst I do understand Mr Anderson’s craving for a Blair mark 2, I do think that we need a leader who creates their (her) own position; radical policies but with sensible argumentation and credibility is needed as an antidote to Corbyn’s tendency to stack up utopian promises on top of a costed manifesto, just to win votes.
Written by Chief Labour editor Isabella Jewell