Oh dear. It’s not even 2020 yet and already the Labour leadership contest has descended into farce. Despite numerous private conversations over Jeremy Corbyn’s successor ahead of Labour’s election disaster, the Corbynistas have so far been unable to unite around one candidate. John McDonnell’s preferred successor Rebecca Long-Bailey has taken so long to get her campaign going that seeds of doubt has begun to grow among what ought to be like-minded supporters. Rumours abound that her flatmate Angela Rayner – who had been expected to back Long-Bailey – could be considering her next move. Long-Bailey has today at least finally confirmed that she is interested in the leadership with an op-ed in the Guardian promising ‘progressive patriotism’.
But is it a case of too little, too late? For while Long-Bailey has been umm-ing and ah-ing, another key Corbyn ally has been considering their own potential. Step forward Ian Lavery. The former president of the National Union of Mineworkers and party chairman is considering throwing his hat into the ring. A spokesperson has confirmed reports: ‘He has had a tremendous amount of support and is seriously considering all of his options at present’.
Lavery’s credentials, aside from helping to mastermind the 2019 election campaign, include the fact that he backs Brexit – something allies say means he would be well-placed to rebuild Labour’s red wall. However, Lavery would have to start at home – he only just hung on to his own seat in the snap election with his majority cut to 814.
What could possibly go wrong?