Rebecca Long-Bailey launches her leadership campaign and vows to end “the gentleman’s club” of politics
Of all the political parties, Labour prides itself on being socially inclusive. Traditionally, it has been the left-wing of politics that has supported those unrepresented by the political elite, whether that be in the realms of gender, race, disability, age or sexuality.
It is therefore with some embarkment that while the Conservatives have had two female prime ministers, the Labour Party has not even had a female leader.
Currently, it is therefore no surprise that there are four women vying for the position, although the candidate currently ahead in the polls is a man, Keir Starmer.
Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy, Emily Thornberry and Rebecca Long-Bailey are taking the favourite on and the latter is standing on the banner that she will end, “ the gentleman’s club of politics”.
Of course, whoever wins this contest will have to unite and reform the party after its terrible performance in the general election, and with the official endorsement of Momentum, Long-Bailey has a good chance of attracting the votes of the membership.
The ex-solicitor and Shadow Business Secretary is the MP for Salford and Eccles, which gives her the advantage of being a voice from the North. There were complaints during the election campaign that Labour had become too London-centric, which led to swathes of traditional supporters crossing over to support the Tories for the first time, so anointing a leader from the Salfod could be the answer.
However, Nandy hails from Wigan and Phillips is a Brummie through and through, both defined by their regional accents.
While receiving the backing of Momentum, which will certainly buoy up Long-Bailey, she was constantly seen at Corbyn’s side and continues to tout many of his policies.
Her message to the party is, “ The British state needs a seismic shock, to prise it open at all levels to the people – their knowledge, their skills, their demands.
“Proper democracy takes power away from the offshore bank account and places it on the ballot paper, so workers can have more and chief executives less, and we can tackle the climate crisis with a Green New Deal that unites all of Labour’s heartlands.”
On paper, Long-Bailey might seem the natural heir apparent to Jeremy Corbyn, and a female northerner to boot, but it is precisely this link to Jeremy Corbyn that looks most likely to cause her downfall.
All three other female contestants have been more critical of Corbyn, especially Lisa Nandy although there is no doubt that as shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry has a history of taking on Johnson in the House of Commons in a charismatic and effective manner.
In an attempt to finally put a woman at the top of the Labour Party, many will feel that the four contenders should have agreed to coalesce behind one candidate, to provide a more powerful opposition to Starmer.
Ironically, it could be the female MPs who could actually stop a woman rising to the top and perpetuating the ‘Gentleman’s Club’, that they are all railing against.