Following the disastrous showing of the Labour Party in the recent General Election, we must ask ourselves if sitting Labour MPs view a leadership bid as a golden opportunity to further their political ambitions or a poisoned chalice? There is speculation that, having lost the last three general elections, the Labour Party is in such a parlous state that it may take a decade to recover its reputation with the voting public.
The party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been extremely unpopular with voters, scoring the lowest net satisfaction ratings of any opposition leader since the 1970’s. Corbyn has indicated his intention to stand down as leader, and may return to the backbenches to focus on his role as Member of Parliament for Islington by Easter 2020.
There is a clamour within the Labour Party for an early leadership contest and the process is expected to commence on 7 January. Contenders will be required to secure a place on the ballot paper through the support of 21 fellow MP’s or 10% of the parliamentary Labour Party. Additionally, they need the backing of either 5% of constituencies or 5% of affiliates (being Trade Unions and socialist societies). Once this starting point is achieved, party members and registered supporters vote in a process administered by the National Executive Committee.
Despite the challenges facing the Labour Party, there is no shortage of candidates expected to throw their hats into the ring. Keir Starmer, 57-year old shadow Brexit Secretary, is said to be “seriously considering” putting himself forward and contends that, despite Labour’s heavy defeat at the polls, “the case for a bold and radical Labour government is as strong as it was last Thursday (day of General Election). We need to anchor ourselves to that”. Bookmaker BetFred places the MP for Holborn and St Pancras as favourite to be the next Labour Party leader, offering odds of 9/4.