The ballot for the Labour Leadership elections opens today (24th February) and I’m already certain about who I’m voting for. Unlike Lisa Nandy, none of the other candidates throughout their leadership campaigns have displayed the pluck, intellect and understanding of Labour’s problems required to overturn the devastating electoral defeat suffered on the 12th December last year. Nandy is a straight-talker and has made it clear from the beginning of her campaign that Labour must ‘change or die.’ In many ways this short quote reveals a great deal about Nandy as a person and also the direction in which she wants to take the party. Often blunt yet clear and concise, she displays the admirable quality of being able to strongly convey her viewpoint without having to pander to a particular wing of the party.
Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey have simply failed to display these qualities, with the former attempting to avoid practically every question known to divide the party (see Channel 4’s leadership debate where Starmer was asked why he hadn’t signed the pledge card from Labour Campaign for Trans Rights) while Long-Bailey visibly squirms every time a question on antisemitism comes up. To be fair, if I had completely failed to speak out and provide support for a community in dismay, I would probably be squirming too. It’s no surprise she achieved just 1.4% of the vote in the Jewish Labour Movement leadership nominations. Nandy soared to victory with 50.9%. Her resignation from the Shadow Cabinet to show solidarity with the Jewish community reveals her potential to take leadership in difficult times and clearly indicates she has her priorities straight.
Yet having a better record than Starmer and Long-Bailey is hardly an outstanding achievement given their integral roles in the dreadful Shadow Cabinet led by the most unpopular leader of the opposition since records began. To seize back voters across the country from this government of villains you must have a vision that excites people, making them feel genuinely optimistic about a future with Labour turning the cogs of government. Nandy definitely does not lack in this department.
Rather than simply spewing out policies, she represents a transformative agenda seeking to undo the generational lack of investment in towns and villages across the country that have for so long been ignored by the political class, proposing extensive devolution and giving people greater political and economic control of their local communities. Nandy recognises that Labour must be both realistic and pragmatic with the policies they commit to. She revealed this during the BBC leadership debate, stating “we cannot go on promising to nationalise everything and get rid of tuition fees when we haven’t got a clue how we would do it or how we would pay for it.” She shows a level of sensibility which was simply not displayed by Labour at the last election when ruled by the far-left ideologies of the party.
While Starmer is somewhat mediocre and unexciting, he would not be a disaster. The party being ruled by these ideologues yet again under Rebecca Long-Bailey, however, is particularly worrying to me. Giving Corbyn’s leadership a ‘10/10’ despite the party being riddled with antisemitism and being on the end of their worst defeat since 1935 says all you need to know about her. Her subsequent outrage at being called the Corbyn continuity candidate is laughable. Why, if Corbyn’s leadership was a ‘10/10’ would you want to do anything different?
There is thus an amalgam of reasons for supporting Lisa Nandy. For one, her past record is impressive and she has shown herself to have her priorities straight throughout her career. More importantly, she is clearly a sensible politician with an exciting and transformative agenda for Britain which doesn’t promise the world like in 2019. The far-left agenda was tried in 2019. It failed. The direction of the party must change if they ever want to see the inside of 10 Downing Street again.
Image: The Independent