• Starmer is the overwhelming favorite to gain party leadership.
  • Long-Bailey is considered the most left-wing candidate and is a close ally of Corbyn
  • Nandy is the daughter of an Indian-Bengali academic and an English mother



After suffering a devastating loss to the Conservatives in last December’s general election, Britain’s Labour Party is preparing to pick a new leader as successor to the highly controversial Jeremy Corbyn.

On Saturday, one of three candidates -- either Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy or Sir Keir Starmer -- will be named as leader of Labour when ballot results are revealed. Whoever emerges as the winner will have to win back former Labour supporters who switched to the Tories in the last election.

The party’s new next deputy leader will also be unveiled, following the resignation of Tom Watson. Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, has emerged as the favorite in the deputy leadership race.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, results will be disclosed via social media or email since the party conference was cancelled. All candidates were asked to pre-record a victory speech that will be released after the winner is revealed.

"It's been a long campaign and it's ending in circumstances that none of us could have predicted,” said Starmer. "But we've kept it positive, we've demonstrated unity."

The ballot used a “preferential system,” which means that party members and others ranked the candidates in order of preference rather than picking just one name.

Starmer, 57, a Member of Parliament for Holborn and St Pancras in London, since 2015 and former the shadow Brexit secretary, is the overwhelming favorite to gain party leadership.

Starmer, who identifies as a Socialist, reportedly seeks to establish good relations with Jews in the Labour Party in order to distance himself from the alleged anti-Semitism of Corbyn and some of his supporters. He is specifically conferring with members of the Jewish Labour Movement, or JLM, an affiliate of the party.

Starmer has also vowed to drastically shake up senior staff at Labour’s central London headquarters in order to eliminate any remnants of anti-Semistism in the party.

“If he is going to change the very mechanics of the party in relation to dealing with anti-Semitism, he feels it’s through JLM that he needs to make this start,“ said a senior Labour figure. “In many cases the relationships between his team and [JLM] are already long established."

The 41-year-old Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, is considered the most left-wing candidate and is a close ally of Corbyn.

But she has been criticized for exaggerating the poverty she was raised in. For example, Long-Bailey claimed that she grew up in Salford Docks in Manchester with her docker father who endured repeated job losses under Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. However, Salford Docks closed in 1982 when she was only two years old.

But some observers think Long-Bailey has been unfairly criticized – due to her gender and to her close links with the polarizing Corbyn.

“She’s had questions and judgments that wouldn’t have been aimed at a man,” said one Labour MP.

Yet others question her working class credentials, noting, among other things, that she lives in Monton, one of Salford’s poshest suburbs, often called “Monton Carlo.”

“We have got this thing in the north [of England] about ‘how destitute were you as a child?’” an MP said. “We absolutely pore over the views of people’s families and their jobs, like it validates their politics. But when there’s a disconnect, people probe you more.”

Nandy, 40 may be the most intriguing candidate and the biggest long-shot– a former shadow minister for children who actually quit in 2016 to protest Corbyn’s leadership.

Paul Bristow, the MP for Peterborough, thinks Nandy, an MP for Wigan in Manchester, could pose the greatest threat to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“I think she’s more relatable. She’s got personality. She understands where Labour have gone wrong. I’m certainly not scared of going out on the doorstep and competing against Sir Keir in seats like Peterborough,” he said. “[Starmer has] not ruled out wanting to rejoin the EU … I don’t think he’s got the personality that will connect with people in Peterborough. I’m not in any way worried about Rebecca Long-Bailey. People have rejected that [far left] ideology once and they will reject it again.”

Robert Largan, a Conservative MP for High Peak in Derbyshire, also speaks favorably of Nandy.

“She is the one who seems to have done the most thinking about why [Labour] lost,” he said. “She’s not tainted by Corbyn and has been critical of him. I think the fact she is a northerner has a lot more cut-through.”

The daughter of an Indian-Bengali academic and an English mother, Nandy has been lauded for her pragmatism.

“I think having a more consensual politics is what the public would quite like. They are fed up [with] these really toxic divisions,” Largan added.

But Sir Peter Smith, who ran Wigan council for 27 years until 2018, was not impressed with Nandy and endorsed Starmer.

“[Nandy] has never been tested in a real job. Being a leader, particularly if you want to be prime minister, you have got to show you can take difficult decisions,” Smith said.