Monday, February 26

Female MPs emerge as top Labour leadership contenders



Two female Labour MPs are looking likely to throw their hats into the ring to replace Jeremy Corbyn as the party’s leader.

The high profile backbenchers, Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, have both written in the Observer calling for change within the party.

Their comments came on the same day that Jeremy Corbyn apologised to Labour supporters for his party crushing defeat in the 2019 general election and said he accepted his responsibility for it.

In the Observer, Ms Phillips said she is “angry” that a generation will now be scarred and governed by a party that has done nothing to improve their lives.

Working class people don’t believe we’re better than Tories

The Birmingham Yardley MP made clear she believed her party needed to change as many working-class people did not believe Labour was better than the Tories.

She said: “Belief matters, and we failed the test. That is an existential problem for the party that is named for working people.”

But Ms Phillips also insisted that relying on New Labour strategies to secure a victory wouldn’t be enough.

“Some call me a Blairite because I’m evangelical about the difference Sure Start and tax credits made to my life. But I marched against Iraq, I didn’t even become an MP until eight years after he’d left parliament, so how does that fit?,” she said.

Reconnecting with voters and communities

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said the Labour party lost touch with the day-to-day lives of people it hopes to represent (Photo: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

Ms Nandy echoed her comments in a separate article calling the election result “devastating” and adding that voters needed a reason to vote Labour again.

She argued that Labour has “lost touch with the day-to-day lived experience“ of the people it wished to represent.

According Ms Nandy, the party must reconnect with the parts of the country that “have come adrift” to regain voters’ trust.

She said: “This will not be easy. It will require listening, practical solutions and being rooted in our communities.”

Labour’s succession race

Jeremy Corbyn has apologised to Labour voters over his party’s crushing defeat in the general election (Photo: Reuters/Toby Melville)

The race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as leader will also be a battle over the future direction of the Labour party as it tries to find a way back into government within the next decade, insiders said.

Bookmakers expect a woman will surge ahead to victory, with odds of 4/7 compared to 5/2 for a male MP.

Among the MPs understood to be thinking of joining the race six are women.

In addition to Ms Phillips and Ms Nancy, several members of Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet are tipped to run, including Emily Thornberry, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Yvette Cooper, Angela Rayner, Sir Keir Starmer and former cabinet minister Yvette Cooper.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has ruled out joining the race.