The new leader of the opposition Labour Party will be revealed on Saturday, 4 April, and the betting favourite is Keir Starmer, a former Director of Public Prosecutions.
Voting has taken place by postal ballot but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the party has cancelled a live event to announce the winner and will instead email out the result on Saturday morning, with a pre-recorded victory message from the winner.
As polls close for the Labour leadership election, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in this campaign.— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) April 2, 2020
I honestly believe that we have come out of the other end of this contest as a better party: more united and ready to build another future. pic.twitter.com/Ff1SS6D3By
In December Labour suffered its worst general election result since 1935 and Jeremy Corbyn immediately announced he would not stay around to fight the next election.
More than half a million Labour Party members were eligible to vote in the leadership election, which was disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The fact that Jeremy Corbyn led Labour to their worst election result since 1935 yet is STILL hailed a “hero” by many highlights just how dangerously cult-like Corbyn’s Labour was.— Emily Hewertson (@emilyhewertson) April 2, 2020
Mr Starmer - the only male contender to make it through to the final ballot - is up against Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy.
Ms Long-Bailey, 40, was appealing to hardline Corbynistas who believed the leader had been beaten by a conspiracy of big business and the media’s obsession with his alleged inability to tackle anti-Semitism within the party. She has been endorsed by the left-wing Momentum movement.
In January Ms Long-Bailey was asked by a journalist to rate Corbyn's leadership skills and replied: "I thought Corbyn was one of most honest kind principled politicians I’ve ever met … I’d give him 10 out of 10, because I respect him and I supported him all the way through."
Just a reminded to all those thinking of leaving @UKLabour if @Keir_Starmer wins.— Alex Falconer (@AlexFalconer17) April 2, 2020
We spent 4 years dragging Labour to the left again, don’t run away when you’re needed most.
If @jeremycorbyn had abandoned the party 25years ago where would be now?#LabourLeadershipElection
Ms Nandy, 40, was the complete outsider - an opponent of Corbyn’s leadership, she claimed to represent the Red Wall constituencies - previously safe Labour seats in the north of England and the Midlands which switched to the Conservatives.
Although she held on to her seat in Wigan, many similar constituencies were lost to the Tories.
Since #keirforleader became favourite to win the #LabourLeadershipElection @UKLabour has dropped like a stone in the polls. We've lost 5pts, the Tories have gained 9pts.— Damian from Brighton (@damian_from) March 30, 2020
Here's the kicker, the LibDems have also dropped and Labour has not gained from that.
Starmer is a disaster.
Mr Corbyn sent out an email to Labour Party members on Friday, 3 April, in which he said: “We could have achieved so much in government, and I am sorry that under my leadership we did not get there. In 2017 we came close, winning the biggest increase in the popular vote since 1945. Sadly, the 2019 election was a Brexit election and our attempt to bridge the gap between Leave and Remain voters was unsuccessful.”
Are any Starmer supporters not in the slightest bit concerned that he's the Tory choice https://t.co/aENOt01cKA— el 🌹 (@possiblyel) April 2, 2020
The email, and the narrative that the 2019 was solely lost on Brexit, ignored the widespread evidence that traditional Labour voters in the Red Wall constituencies actively disliked Mr Corbyn’s leadership of the party and deserted it in favour of the Tories.
Mr Starmer has been blamed by many Labour MPs in pro-Brexit constituencies for pressuring Corbyn into amending the party’s policy on Brexit and promising a second referendum, which was wildly unpopular in areas of the country where they had voted to leave the European Union in 2016.
But Mr Starmer was quick to admit, after the General Election, that Labour had lost the national debate on Brexit and it was time to move on.
If Keir Starmer wins tomorrow I guess one benefit for us all is that we'll learn how to spell "Keir" without having to look it up.— Hannah Al-Othman Says Stay Inside (@HannahAlOthman) April 3, 2020
In February he told Sky News: "We all take responsibility for that devastating election loss… People brought up the leadership of the Labour Party, fairly or unfairly, they brought up Brexit in different ways – what was said in the Midlands was different to what was said in Scotland, they brought up the fact that they thought the manifesto was overloaded and they didn’t believe we could deliver it all and, in a number of places, they brought up anti-Semitism.”
48hrs to change face of Labour.— Lester Hickling ✋ (@lester_hickling) March 31, 2020
Long-Bailey and Burgon will pursue policies that will improve UKs environment and create a more equal society, or Keir Starmer who won’t confirm who paid for his campaign and voted for Tory austerity policies and to remove Corbyn as leader.
Mr Starmer - who shares his first name with the founder of the party Keir Hardie, said Labour had lost four elections in a row and the party needed to make an “honest assessment of the nature of the task ahead.”
If he does win, Mr Starmer is expected to reshuffle the Shadow Cabinet early next week and among those who will be on their way out will be Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott.
It will be hard for me to look back on the defeat of Corbynism without rancour. Hard to forget that, when faced with a choice between Tory barbarism and the socialism that would literally be saving lives atm, senior liberal columnists invoked - instrumentalised - the Holocaust— Dan Hancox (@danhancox) April 3, 2020
He is expected to give Ms Long-Bailey and Ms Nandy positions in the Shadow Cabinet and may bring back experienced veterans like Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper, who were sidelined under Mr Corbyn.
But Mr Starmer will be under pressure not to abandon “Corbynism” - the left-wing policies adopted by Mr Corbyn after he won the leadership in 2015. Labour List reported on Thursday, 2 April, that a YouGov poll of Labour Party members had found the majority in favour of keeping many of Corbyn’s policies - including public ownership of key industries and introducing a four-day working week.
Obviously difficult for any opposition leader at the moment. Will be very hard to be heard during a national crisis. Starmer, assuming he wins, will also be having to build off a disastrous electoral defeat. But.— Ian Dunt (@IanDunt) April 3, 2020
Labour has been out of power since 2010 when Gordon Brown - who took over from Tony Blair three years earlier - lost a general election after Britain was caught up in the global financial crisis.
In his farewell email Corbyn, who will be 71 next month, said: “I will continue to campaign on the issues and principles that have motivated me as Leader, as an MP, as a councillor and as a party member for more than 50 years. I can assure you my voice will not be stilled. I'll be out there campaigning for socialism, peace and justice, and I feel sure we'll be doing that together.”