Sebastian Payne

How Jeremy Corbyn could still make it onto the Labour leadership ballot

How Jeremy Corbyn could still make it onto the Labour leadership ballot
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Nominations for the Labour leadership contest may have only been open for 24 hours but Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall already have enough to support to make it onto the ballot paper. There are, though, still around 70 MPs who have yet to declare their intensions — see who they are here. All of the leadership campaigns are predicting that the contest is set to be either a two or three horse race, with most of these undecided backing Burnham, Cooper or Kendall.

But let us not forget Mary Creagh and Jeremy Corbyn, who are still in the race and there are enough undecideds to put both of them onto the ballot paper. Few in Labour are expecting Creagh to garner the 35 nominations needed. Her pitch for the leadership has been a mix of Kendall-lite policies and meaningless clichés in her public appearances. Corbyn on the other hand might still have a chance of hitting 35. The left wing firebrand MP for Islington North still needs another 21 MPs to back him — but there are circumstances where this could happen.

Speaking to the Burnham, Cooper and Kendall campaigns, it appears none of them have ruled out ‘lending’ MPs to Corbyn's campaign if he is getting close to the threshold. Burnham is seen as the most likely candidate to lend support, not least because the former minister Malcolm Wicks switched sides from David Milbiand's campaign to help him during the 2010 leadership contest — plus, he has the most nominations so far.

The question is how close Corbyn gets. If he edges closer towards say 20 MPs, his campaign will have some legitimacy behind it. There is also the possibility of several candidates lending him support. A broad coalition of support for Corbyn from Cooper and Kendall, as well as Burnham, would show they all understand the need to have a proper debate on Labour's future. It’s also in the interests of all the candidates to have Corbyn on the ballot paper: when the contest reaches outside the Labour rank and file beyond the Fabian Society and GMB unionists, Corbyn will make the other candidates appear far more reasonable.

Until next Wednesday, the campaigns are keeping mostly quiet — focusing on soliciting support in the PLP and planning for the next major hustings. On the day the ballot paper is announced, Newsnight's Laura Kuenssberg will be hosting the the first televised hustings from Nuneaton, the place which signalled Labour's impending defeat on election night. Given the location, the campaigns are preparing for tough questions on why Labour failed to win in such middle England seats.