Keir Starmer ‘first choice among Labour members for leader’
Shadow Brexit secretary would beat Rebecca Long-Bailey according to simulated vote
Keir Starmer is the early frontrunner in the Labour leadership race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, according to a poll of members.
In the survey of 1,059 Labour party members, 31% put Starmer as their first-choice candidate, with 20% backing Rebecca Long-Bailey as their favourite, and 11% getting behind Jess Phillips.
When the “don’t knows” were removed and data put through a simulated leadership vote, professors at the University of Sussex found Starmer beat Long-Bailey convincingly in the last round by 61% to 39%.
The figures suggest that the winner is unlikely to come from the left of the party, according to Professor Tim Bale of Queen Mary University of London, who jointly ran the poll with the University of Sussex. He believes it could be a relatively protracted affair.
“This is not shaping up to be a 2015-style Labour leadership contest,” he said. “Unless potential candidates drop out before the start of voting, it may take a few rounds to decide the winner this time around.”
He also said “it doesn’t look as if Labour’s members are necessarily persuaded that it’s time the party had a female leader” but “seem more interested in picking the best person for the job, irrespective of gender”.
The most northern of all the MPs in the running for the leadership – Lisa Nandy – does not seem any more popular among Labour members living in the north than with those in other UK regions.
“It looks like the membership are more interested in who they think will do the best job than where or what background they come from,” said Bale.
A timetable for the leadership race is expected to be announced this week. The race is anticipated to begin next month, with a new leader ready to be in place by the spring.
To be a candidate on the ballot paper, each candidate will need the backing of 10% of Labour MPs and MEPs.
They will also have to enjoy support from either 5% of constituency Labour parties or affiliated unions or organisations.
Already declared as running are Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis. Expected to declare soon are Rebecca Long-Bailey, Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy. Others who may also join the fray include Ian Lavery, Yvette Cooper, David Lammy and Jess Phillips.
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