The Labour leadership contest has become a three horse race. Emily Thornberry has been eliminated after failing to win enough Constituency Labour Party nominations to pass through to the final round. The shadow foreign secretary did come close to reaching the required number – she was two short at 31 nominations to the 33 required by Friday evening. Of the candidates who have made it through to the membership stage, Keir Starmer won 374 nominations, Rebecca Long-Bailey164 and Lisa Nandy 72.
On hearing the news that she would not progress, Thornberry said she was proud of her contribution to the contest:
“I’m proud that I was the only candidate to secure nominations from all four nations of the UK, and I’m delighted to have made new friends around the country, and met so many dedicated campaigners, who may be deflated by the election result, but are determined to fight back. It was on their behalf that I stood for the leadership, because I’ve always believed we are at our best when – from the dispatch box to the doorstep – we are one, united fighting force, taking on the Tories, and standing up for the communities we represent.
So, what went wrong? Thornberry's leadership campaign has been uphill from the beginning. She struggled to amass support among parliamentary colleagues and she did not win backing from a single union or socialist society. However, she did go further than some of her rivals in criticising Jeremy Corbyn – giving him zero out of ten for electoral performance, in an interview. Long-Bailey gave him a general ten out of ten.
Part of Thornberry's issue was simply that few believed she had a realistic chance of winning. This feeds into a wider problem with the state of the contest. The expectation in Labour circles is that Keir Starmer will comfortably win the contest. That has made it harder for candidates like Thornberry and Nandy to cut through and make much noise. As the race enters its final stage, this is Starmer's to lose.