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Support grows for Long Bailey after Lavery pulls back from Labour leadership race

THE left has rallied around Rebecca Long Bailey as she confirmed that she was standing to lead the Labour Party.

After her announcement in Tribune on Monday night, Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery pulled back from entering the race and offered his “full support” to Ms Long Bailey.

Writing in Tribune today, he said that Ms Long Bailey “built much of what we got right over the last four years and has a sensitive understanding of what went wrong, forged in a spirit of genuine inquiry, not point-scoring.”

Last month, shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon – who is running to be deputy leader – also endorsed her for the position.

And Momentum founder and Labour national executive committee member Jon Lansman is reportedly also backing Ms Long Bailey to become the party’s first female leader.

Unite the union is expected to throw its weight behind Ms Long Bailey after it supported her bid to stand for MP in the 2015 general election.

This evening Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell confirmed his support for the candidate.

Taking to Twitter, McDonnell said: “She is the key thinker behind Labour’s Green New Deal policies, and has been instrumental in bringing together trade unions, environmental campaigners, and other stakeholders. She will be a superb leader."

Shadow business secretary Ms Long Bailey burnished her working-class and socialist credentials in her leadership candidacy announcement.

She wrote that she saw her father, a trade union official, deal with “rounds and rounds of redundancies” and saw people “forced to give up family heirlooms so they could feed their children” as she began her first job in a pawnbrokers in Greater Manchester.

Ms Long Bailey wrote: “I’m not your typical politician. I’m not a millionaire or a landlord, and I didn’t go to a posh school. Instead I’m a lifelong socialist, dedicated to our movement and determined to do my bit.

“You’re as likely to see me on a picket line as you are at the dispatch box and you can trust me to fight the Establishment tooth and nail.”

The announcement comes after her rival Sir Keir Starmer, seen by many as a centrist candidate, stated that he was a “socialist” and had stood up for left-wing causes as a lawyer.

The pro-EU MP has also admitted that Labour’s catastrophic losses in last month’s election “blew away the argument for a second [EU] referendum.”

In her leadership announcement, Ms Long Bailey said: “Labour’s path to victory lies in reuniting all our heartlands, from the communities that voted to leave in the north and Midlands, to those in Scotland who abandoned Labour in 2015 and our growing young, diverse strongholds in cities.”  

She also acknowledged last month that the party’s “compromise solution” on Brexit had not gone down well with voters in Labour’s “red wall” across Wales and northern England.

Ms Long Bailey has been described as outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn’s “continuity candidate” but, in contrast to his position, signalled yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she would be prepared to press the nuclear button if she became PM.

“If you have a deterrent you have to be prepared to use it,” she said, but stressed she was “not going to be a warmonger.”

The new leader is to be announced at a conference on Saturday April 4.

The same timetable will apply to the contest to succeed Tom Watson as deputy leader, who stood down before the December election.

In addition to Ms Long Bailey and Mr Starmer, four other candidates have so far announced they intend to stand for the leadership – frontbenchers Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis and backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy.

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