Four lawmakers will compete to be the next leader of the opposition Labour Party after a push to nominate Jeremy Corbyn, a hardlline socialist, succeeded at the last minute.
Nominations in the contest to replace Ed Miliband closed at midday on Monday. Corbyn joins health spokesman Andy Burnham, home-affairs spokeswoman Yvette Cooper and junior health spokeswoman Liz Kendall, who all received the required 35 nominations from Labour members of Parliament to enter the contest.
“There is enough that Jeremy and I disagree on to mean that I won’t be voting for him,” lawmaker David Lammy wrote in a Facebook post on Monday after switching his support to Corbyn to ensure he is on the ballot. “I believe the choice of who becomes Labour’s next leader should be made by Labour members and supporters -- not by MPs.”
Corbyn, who urged the Labour leadership to pledge higher spending and back stronger laws protecting trade unions in the run up to the general election, reached 35 nominations in the final minutes before the deadline. He is opposed to the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system and was one of only 15 lawmakers to vote against the bombing of Libya in 2011.
Burnham topped the list with 68 nominations from colleagues in the House of Commons, with Cooper in second place with 59, according to lists published on the leadership election website. Kendall got 41 and Corbyn 36. International development spokeswoman Mary Creagh dropped out of the race on Friday after struggling to secure the necessary support.
Burnham, in contrast to Corbyn, has described Labour’s proposed program ahead of last month’s election as “the best manifesto I have stood on in four general elections.”
Labour must “shake off its perception as the party of benefits and trade unionists” if it is to win the next election, the Policy Exchange research group said in a report published Monday, citing polling in swing electoral districts.
Though Miliband identified the “squeezed middle,” the large number of Britons neither living on the bread line nor sharing in the prosperity of the richest, as a key target group for Labour before the election, the party failed to win over middle-class voters in more than 100 “battleground” seats it will have to target in 2020 to beat the Tories, the report said.
Kendall in particular has criticized Labour’s direction under Miliband, who quit after the party lost the May 7 general election that gave Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives a surprise parliamentary majority.