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Lisa Nandy’s GMB endorsement livens up Labour’s leadership battle

21 January 2020

4:54 PM

21 January 2020

4:54 PM

Lisa Nandy has won the endorsement of GMB and is one step away from reaching the final stage of the Labour leadership contest. Announcing the decision, the union’s general secretary Tim Roache said:

‘Lisa Nandy is a breath of fresh air in the debate over Labour’s future. The more members see of Lisa in this contest the more impressed they will be by her ambition, optimism and decisive leadership. GMB is proud to nominate her. Lisa won’t shy away from the tough challenges or bold decisions that lie ahead, because she knows that after fifteen years of losing elections, more of the same won’t cut it.’

This is significant for two reasons. Firstly, it means Nandy is very likely to make the final stage of the contest. She now only needs to win the backing of one affiliate group to pass to the membership stage. This looks likely: Chinese for Labour is rumoured to be considering backing Nandy.

There have been points in the contest when it has seemed as though this is a two-horse race and that it would only be Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey who would make it to the final round. Starmer is already through and Long-Bailey is expected to make it through. While Jess Phillips has dropped out today, there is a chance Emily Thornberry still makes it through with CLP nominations.

With Nandy likely through to the final round, we are heading for a more interesting contest. Nandy’s pitch is that she is the person to reconnect the party with its traditional heartlands that they lost to the Tories. As a soft left female MP, she has the potential to win second preference votes from both Keir Starmer’s and Rebecca Long-Bailey’s supporters. This is significant because the voting system is preferential – voters pick their first and second preference for leader. If no candidate wins outright in the first round, whichever candidate is eliminated then has the second choice of their voters counted. Nandy’s strategy is to get ahead by cleaning up second preference votes. Even is that fails, Nandy’s second preference votes could prove crucial in deciding the eventual winner.

Although Starmer and Long-Bailey remain the favourites, today’s GMB endorsement shows that the Labour leadership contest shouldn’t be written off yet as a two-horse race.

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