Feature written by Sophie Crabtree, who you can follow on Twitter @CrabSophie
With the election for Jeremy Corbyn’s replacement as the Leader of the Labour Party drawing near, I’ve profiled the four candidates in terms of their background, experience, and their passions. The person best fit for the job will be decided by Labour members and supporters throughout March, with the new leader expected to be announced on April 4th, 2020.
Emily Thornberry – MP for Islington South and Finsbury
Emily was born in Guildford in 1960. As of 2017, she has been the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, as well as the Shadow First Secretary of State (from 2016).
She grew up in a political household: her mother Sallie was a Labour councillor and mayor of Guildford; her father Cedric ran to be a Labour Candidate in the 1966 general election. She was also influenced by the late Labour Councillor Bill Bellerby, who found her and her single mother a council flat after her father left when she was seven and they were hiding from the bailiffs. She’s spoken candidly about her humiliating experience of being on free school meals. She took to canvassing the Hammersmith area alone as a teenager and has been a member for the past 40 years.
She’s unafraid of being outspoken, taking pride in the fact that: “in the two years [she] shadowed Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, [she] showed him up every time for the lying, reckless charlatan that he is” (The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jan/17/emily-thornberry-warns-unions-dont-close-the-gates-to-labours-would-be-leaders). She recently labelled the Scottish National Party as ‘Tories in disguise.’
Since coming to Parliament in 2005 she’s been working on a number of different issues, including opposing Universal Credit; and charging forward with the conversation around climate change; as well as fighting the anti-abortion laws in Northern Ireland. She credits herself in her official Labour statement for representing the fight against the National Front and for standing with miners and sea farers.
Her opinion is that the richest of the British population should take on the greatest tax burden, in order to help strengthen pubic services. High in her priorities is the fight for economic justices, putting the focus back into neglected towns and cities that have been ignored by the government thus far. She will also be standing against those she deems to be 'foreign dictators', should she be elected.
She encourages student activism and making sure that older generations are re-educated on the biggest issues of today, across the sectors of our society.
Sir Keir Starmer – MP for Holborn and St Pancras
Keir's most prominent role in government is most likely that of Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Being on the front line of the Brexit saga, he’s seen the factions emerging within Labour and emphasises the need to reunite his party in order to stand a chance at winning the expected 2024 general election.
Born in Southwark in 1962, Keir was raised by a nurse and a tool maker. As the first graduate of his family, Keir began his career as a barrister, focusing on human rights law. He used this knowledge to rid Africa and the Caribbean of their death penalty and advised on the Northern Ireland Policing Board. In 2008 he was made Head of the Crown Prosecution Service and continued in that role until 2013.
He became an MP in 2015, but resigned from his position as a shadow Home Office minister in the following year with a flurry of others in protest of the handling of Brexit proceedings by Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Keir rejoined the Party in the same year and took on the role of Shadow Brexit Secretary, whilst pushing for more transparency in government.
His main aim is to unite Labour with the trade unions that represent the people. He hopes that this will create radical socioeconomic change and balance the state of the country.
He believes in the philosophy of common ownership: rather than individuals holding huge company assets, they should be common property and therefore a community responsibility.
This is solidified by his nomination to the post by trade union UNISON.
Rebecca Long-Bailey – MP For Salford and Eccles
Born in Greater Manchester in 1979, Rebecca was raised by her docker father, whose experience greatly influences her socialist politics and views in trade relations.
After becoming an MP in 2015, she took on the roles of Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (2016) and was promoted the following year to Shadow Business Secretary. She also wrote the Labour Green New Deal, and she endorses a more coherent narrative within Labour policies, in order to create more harmony.
She previously worked in a law firm focusing on tenancy, while she trained as a solicitor. From 2007, Rebecca specialised in NHS contracts and commercial law.
She’s backed by Unite, Food and Allied Workers Union, and three more unions (at the time of writing) for the leadership race. Her ideal impact would be handing power and wealth back to ordinary people for a better quality of life through a “democratic, aspirational and decarbonised society.”
Rebecca has proved she's more than capable of calling out media untruths, and regularly takes to her social media to put right any misinformation that may bubble to the surface.
Lisa Nandy – MP For Wigan
Born in Manchester in 1979, Lisa is described by her father as “one of the few remaining Marxists” in the country, through his influence.
She joined the homeless charity Centrepoint as a researcher from 2003-05, and then the Children’s Society. She was a councillor for Hammersmith and Fulham from 2006-2010 and became Wigans’s first Asian and female MP in 2010, and has been working with child refugees and rough sleepers since.
Under Ed Miliband, Lisa was the Shadow Education Minister. Under Corbyn she stayed in the cabinet as an energy spokesperson, tackling climate change as Shadow Secretary of State, but resigned in 2016 alongside Sir Keir Starmer and other Labour MPs, to protest his leadership during the EU referendum exit process.
In 2018 she set up the think tank Centre for Towns, saying “far too long towns have been ignored” in the shadows of cities that are viewed as the only engines of growth, and so the team is studying the current economic structure to make changes to that. She promises more funding being sent directly to councils for them to make the best use of it.
Lisa is passionate about worker’s rights, consumer protection, and the environment. She focuses on the need to win back the “heartlands” that were lost to the Conservatives in the 2019 snap election because they believe they “no longer have a stake in our national story.”
Hopefully knowing more about the work these Labour leadership candidates have been doing up to the present day, that reflect their passions, is a helpful insight into who to choose to best represent you. You can vote as a member of the Party from February 24th, 2020 to noon on April 2nd, 2020.