Labour leadership contest gets nasty as nominations close

Frontrunners lash out at “Taliban New Labour”

In 88 days’ time, Labour will have selected Ed Miliband’s successor.

Today the nominations deciding the shortlist close. Over the weekend, Mary Creagh dropped out leaving the Labour party with just four options to choose between.

The frontrunners are party favourites Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, followed by the staunch Blairite Liz Kendall, and left-wing MP Jeremy Corbyn.

Each must secure the backing of at least 35 Labour MPs to get onto the ballot paper. There was doubt over Corbyn’s chances of reaching the threshold, but at 12pm he reportedly reached the magical 35 number with “less than a minute to spare”.

After initial warmth to her decision to run, Kendall’s campaign has now been deemed a “failure”, by those in Burnham and Cooper’s teams, who have now got to work attempting to clear the path to the leadership.

Taliban New Labour

According to the Telegraph, one Labour source said: “We are now seeing the end of Taliban New Labour. All of those Blairites who hoped they might get their candidate elected have failed.

“The whole strategy for Liz was a Westminster strategy – she played up to the media, to the right-wing commentators, to the Blairite Taliban MPs, made a few headlines by saying she was relaxed about free schools and committing to defence spending, and just took a chance that the momentum would carry her forward… You will see her star wane very quickly.”

While another lashed out at Kendall saying: “You can really tell that Liz lacks the experience of Andy and Yvette. They’ve been around the block so many times, but Liz has never even been in the shadow cabinet, and now she’s being tested she’s suffering.

“And I just don’t understand why she is going around talking about topics like defence targets, which just do not appeal to traditional Labour members.”

A spokesperson for Kendall said: “Organisationally we are very strong. We already have our first mailing out. The members are have minds and many are open to hearing a new message. Liz is refreshing and different and lots of people are going to warm to that.”

Selection dissection

Meanwhile, a row is brewing over the selection process. Diane Abbott, who is currently running for Mayor of London, but has previously contested the Labour leadership said to the BBC that the selection process “artificially narrows the choice”, adding, “it doesn’t just lock out the left, it locks out newer candidates and younger candidates.”

But Abbott also said there was a chance that Corbyn may reach the 35 MP threshold, as she herself only reached it “in the final hour”, in 2010.


*** This story was updated to include news that Corbyn successfully reached the 35 MP threshold ***

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