Rather Than Learning Lessons of Defeat, Labour Moves to Select Corbyn Loyalist as Next Leader

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey looks on as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during the launch of the party's election manifesto at Birmingham City University on November 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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Jeremy Corbyn fired the starting gun on the race to replace him as the leader of the Labour party in the early hours of Friday morning as the scale of their massive defeat became imminent, but rather than learning lessons from the right-wing landslide the early favourite is Corbyn loyalist Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Frequently described as a “Corbyn loyalist”, Salford and Eccles Member of Parliament Rebecca Long-Bailey pushed aside former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer over the weekend as favourite to win the race. British bookmaker Betfair, one of several which offer odds on political events put Long-Bailey at 9/5 (35 per cent likelihood) to be the next Labour leader Monday, climbing 9/2 on Friday.

Although Jeremy Corbyn has admitted he will not lead the party he has drawn toward the hard left since 2015 in the next general election, it is not exactly clear when he will actually step down, and the next general election could be as long as five years away. Regardless, it is likely for party management reasons Labour will want their new leader in place before the late summer party conference season, and the betting market has the first quarter of 2020 the most likely time for his departure.

The tenure of 70-year-old hard-left veteran campaigner Jeremy Corbyn as leader has seen the once progressive party turn towards repeated antisemitism scandals, and Labour overtaken by the Conservatives on several milestones. While labour was led by a white male, the Conservatives gave the country their second female Prime Minister, and first immigrant-background home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer.

Whether these achievements matter to voters or not is unclear, but there is a clear feeling of being left behind by the Tories in the Labour camp, a point amply illustrated by the fact of the seven public challengers for the leadership, just one is a man.

Indeed, Jeremy Corbyn himself appears to be among those pushing for a female leader, as Rebecca Long-Bailey emerges as the “chosen candidate” of the Corbynite faction of the party. As long ago as June, British newspaper of record The Times noted that Long-Bailey stood in for Corbyn at Prime Minister’s questions, a development it called “the clearest sign yet that she was being groomed as heir apparent to the leader.”

As well as being a woman, Long-Bailey also has the advantage of not being from London — the deeply London-centric nature of the present Labour leadership has been cited by pundits as a factor driving a wedge between Labour and their traditional working class and regional support. Rebecca Long-Bailey’s Manchester seat won’t take her too far away from the media bubble, though — her Salford and Eccles constituency contains the new BBC headquarters, Media City Salford.

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