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BRIT Review

Life after Ed - Labour Leadership Contenders

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Following the resignation of Ed Miliband, the UK Labour Party has been plunged into another leadership contest for both leader and deputy leader. As an interim, Harriet Harman is leader of the party and will oversee the contest which will conclude on 12th September.

With critics saying Ed Miliband took the party too far to the left and away from the centre ground of Tony Blair and New Labour, the debate is not just who leads the party but from what policy position. 

Some Labour party members were quick to look to Ed Miliband’s brother, David, who lost out in the 2010 leadership contest, even though he is no longer an MP. David Miliband quickly ruled himself out.

We take a look at who’s in and who’s out.

Declared Leadership Candidates

Liz Kendall

First out of the blocks was Liz Kendall who has been a Member of Parliament for Leicester West since 2010. Under Ed Miliband she was also promoted to Shadow Health Minister. 

Liz Kendall MPBefore entering parliament Ms. Kendall was Director of the Ambulance Service Network and a special adviser to both Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman.

Speaking after the election, Ms. Kendall said ““I think we didn’t get people's trust on the economy... we didn't set out a positive enough alternative for the future.” 

Kendall also believes the party needs major reform and to show that it understands peoples’ aspirations and ambition.

Chuka Umunna (Withdrawn Nomination)

Chuka Umunna MPMr. Umunna is the Member of Parliament for Streatham where he was born and grew up as well as Shadow Business Secretary. 

He announced his leadership bid via a video filmed out and about in Swindon but on 15th May changed his mind due to underestimating the level of scrutiny that he would receive as a leadership candidate.

He claimed that the 2015 campaign failed to reach out to middle-income voters. Mr. Umunna said the party can reach out to voters and win “north, south, east and west” once again. But in a later message it is clear that the pressures of being a potential Leader was too much for him personally.

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham stood to be Labour Party Leader in 2010 and has a good standing with the unions. He has been the Member of Parliament for Leigh and Shadow Health Secretary. Experienced in government, he served in the last Labour government as Health Secretary, Culture Secretary and Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

In launching his candidacy, Mr Burnham said the party needed a leader "whose voice could carry into all the nations and regions of the UK". He added "Our challenge is not to go left or right, to focus on one part of the country above another, but to rediscover the beating heart of Labour," he said, adding: "That is about the aspirations of everyone, speaking to them like we did in 1997." Watch Mr Burnham's launch video below.

Yvette Cooper

Yvette CooperMs. Cooper is the Shadow Home secretary and Member of Parliament for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford in Yorkshire. 

She was first elected in 1997 holding the government posts of Minister of state for Housing, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Work and Pensions Secretary in both the Blair and Brown governments. 

Ms. Cooper did not stand for the leadership contest in 2010, where her husband Ed Balls put his name forward.

Unlike her colleagues who opted for a video message, Yvette Cooper announced her bid in a column for the Daily Mirror.

She said "Labour lost because we didn't convince enough people in all parts of the country that we had the answers to match up with their ambitions. She added: "Our promise of hope wasn't string enough to drown out the Tory and UKIP voices of fear. That's what we need to change."

Mary Creagh

Mary CreaghMs. Creagh is Shadow International Development Secretary and Member of Parliament for Wakefield, elected in 2005. 

Viewed as capable but an outsider in the contest Ms. Creagh said she wanted to "earn back the trust that Middle England had lost in the Labour Party." 

She added people did not trust the party on the economy - and that needed to change under the new leadership.  

In a criticism of Ed Miliband's campaign, writing in the Daily Mail, the Labour MP said it wrongly focused on the NHS as in the end it was not people's main focus for voting.

Ruled Out of the Leadership Race

Tristram Hunt MP

Hotly tipped as a contender, Tristram Hunt MP, Shadow Education Secretary, ruled himself out of the contest saying that support had formed around two candidates, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall and that he had been "slow out of the blocks" since the election.

Mr. Hunt, who took part in the leadership hustings, is now backing Liz Kendall for the post.

Harriet Harman MP

On May 8th shortly after being praised by Ed Miliband and named as the acting leader, Harriet Harman declared that she would not be seeking re-election as Labour Deputy Chairman. She also warned party members about stepping over the line and making unhelpful comments in their analysis of what went wrong in the election.

David Miliband

There’s "no point in trying to press the rewind button in life".

With many members still believing they picked the wrong brother, talk immediately turned to David Miliband as the next Labour Leader. With the slight difficulty that David Miliband is not a Member of Parliament, some said they could bring him back through a forced by-election.

Labour grandees were quick to say that the party should not look to the past and Brown vs Blair but look forwards with a new leader selected within the next generation of the Labour party.

David Miliband, who had refused to be drawn during the election, held an interview from New York, where he now works for an international charity, to say he did not want to be leader of the labour party and was fully committed to where he was. However he did criticise the direction both Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband had taken the party saying they had “allowed themselves to be portrayed as moving backwards from the principles of aspiration and inclusion that are the absolute heart of any successful progressive political project".

Dan Jarvis MP

Mr. Jarvis is a former army officer, who received an MBE in 2011. He was elected MP for Barnsley Central in a by-election in 2011, having resigned his commission as a major in the Parachute Regiment to contest the seat.

After entering Parliament in 2010, Mr. Jarvis was quickly appointed to the Shadow Cabinet. He became shadow culture, media and sport minister and later a shadow justice minister.

Mr. Jarvis who was widowed in 2010 and has a young family, ruled himself out, saying it is not the "right time" for him and his family.

David Lammy MP

The MP for Tottenham, and former minister, said he would consider standing if colleagues wanted him to. However he later ruled himself out saying his principle aim was to become Labour's candidate for Mayor of London in 2016. He also told the media "I think we need a leader that can win back the Midlands understand Scotland as well as the south.”

Rachel Reeves MP

Currently the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Ms. Reeves is the Member of Parliament for Leeds West and previously worked at the Bank of England before getting elected in 2010.

Alan Johnson MP 

Former home secretary and shadow chancellor, Johnson declined to stand in 2010 and it would seem he has the same view in 2015. The former postman, who is a very popular member of parliament, has been MP for Hull West and Hessle since 1997.

Mr Johnson said being the next Labour leader was a "10-year job" and he did not have the "right qualities".

Labour Leadership - May to September Timetable

15 May

The formal election period opens

8 June

Parliamentary Labour Party will stage hustings for the contenders

9 June

More hustings for the deputy leaders contenders. Nominations for both posts open.

15 June

Nominations close at midday for leader post

17 June

Nominations close at midday for the deputy leader post

12 August

Deadline for people to join the Labour party

14 August

Ballot papers sent out by post

10 September

Polling closes at midday

12 September

Winners announced at a special conference

27 September

Labour's party conference will start


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