The next Labour leader to succeed Ed Miliband will be announced on the 12th of September before the Labour Party conference. Since Ed Miliband resigned after his defeat in the 2015 General Election, Labour Party members have impatiently anticipated his replacement. The nomination deadline at 12pm on Monday revealed four candidates running for leadership: Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.
After Mary Creagh dropped out on Friday, a mere few days before the closing date, it was certainly a rush to the finishing line. Jeremy Corbyn was a last-minute entry after receiving 36 nominations, only topping the 35-voter threshold by one vote. His left-wing support by fellow Labour Party members allowed for a wider range of candidates to be represented on the ballot paper. Voting will commence from mid-August until the 10th of September, with the winner announced two days later.
Unlike the Liberal Democrats, who are deciding on their leader in just over a month’s time, Labour have delayed the leadership decision with Harriet Harman as acting Labour leader. Jeremy Corbyn has expressed his concerns over the ballot date, emphasising the party will not have had time to reflect on the disastrous results following the ballot commencing only a matter of months after the general election. With many Labour seats having been lost to the Lib Dems and UKIP, he argues the party is entering into ‘a leadership contest built around personalities’. On the other hand, Andy Burnham asserts the importance of participation in the leadership election, which would allow the Labour Party to regain their support from all over the country.
With 68 nominations, Andy Burnham appears as the favourite among Labour members to lead the party. He is the only candidate who has run for both 2010 and 2015 leadership elections, with 9 MPs supporting him again this year. However, after finishing 4th in the 2010 leadership election, Burnham will have to convince his colleagues he is best suited for the role. A number of television appearances by all candidates over the summer months will allow their party plans to be properly conveyed.
Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, received 56 nominations with the majority of votes from female voters. Having voiced her concerns over Ed Miliband’s anti-business policies, she managed to swing the support from 14 members who previously backed Miliband in the 2010 leadership election. Cooper has not raised any major controversies between party members, this possibly being to her advantage as a second preference vote could amount to a surprise victory.
Liz Kendall, Shadow Health Minister, is the current third preferred leader amongst party members with 41 nominations. She was not widely known prior to becoming a leadership candidate, but could offer a fresh direction to the Labour Party despite having no experience of serving in government. Kendall is passionate for the Labour Party’s fundamental ‘strong values’ of helping people into work and supporting those who cannot, which may prove a winning strategy if she can convince her colleagues her determination is enough to lead the party and possibly the country if she is elected in the next general election.
Last-minute contender, Jeremy Corbyn, is standing to represent the left-wing members of the Labour Party and to allow more diversity for the ballot. Former Shadow Cabinet Minister, Sadiq Kham, who said he would nominate Corbyn but not vote for him in the ballot, supported Corbyn’s strategy. His nomination is expected to receive some abuse during the voting process due to a great number of Conservative supporters wishing for Labour voters to elect Corbyn. The Twitter campaign ‘#ToriesForCorbyn’ began on Monday, with the intention of damaging the party’s reputation in any future election campaigns. Regardless of the controversy of his nomination, Corbyn is hoping to move forward from Labour’s defeat by shifting the party’s policies over to the left, where he believes the failure of doing so by Ed Miliband led to the disastrous election result in May.
The voting period is set to commence midway through August, with the announcement of the new Labour leader prior to the party conference in September. With a rapid decline of seats in Parliament during the 2015 election and, as a result, Labour’s worst performance since 1987, the party desperately needs a leader to freshen up the face of Labour and propose radical changes in order to regain public support.