After weeks of speculation, Rebecca Long Bailey has finally announced that she is entering the race to be the next Labour leader. In an article for Tribune magazine, Long Bailey says she is standing for election on the grounds that Labour needs a 'proud socialist' to lead who is 'driven by their principles and an unwavering determination to see democratic socialism in our lifetime':
'For all of these reasons and more, I have decided to stand for election to become the next leader of our Party. I don’t just agree with the policies, I’ve spent the last four years writing them. Labour’s Green New Deal, our plans to radically democratise the economy and to renew the high streets of towns across the country are the foundations for an economic transformation that will combat the climate crisis and hand back wealth and power to ordinary people.'
Long Bailey is unapologetically pitching herself as the continuity Corbyn candidate. She is to the left of her main rival Keir Starmer. In the article, the shadow business secretary – who is a close ally of John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn – suggests that the party's disastrous election result was down to a 'lack of a coherent narrative' rather than a rejection of the Corbyn project. She focusses on criticising Labour pre-Corbyn rather than the current leadership. This includes the decision to work alongside David Cameron on the Remain campaign during the EU referendum: 'We’ve also, at times, been too close to the establishment we are meant to be taking on – whether cosying up to Rupert Murdoch, joining forces with David Cameron in the Better Together campaign in 2014 or turning our focus inwards on parliamentary manoeuvring for the last year.'
So, what is Long Bailey proposing? The MP for Salford and Eccles suggests she would stick with the domestic policy pitch Corbyn put forward – with a focus on the party's green new deal. She writes that in pushing for a socialist government, the party 'must go to war with the political establishment'. This 'war' would include the abolition of the House of Lords, a change in political funding and a push to move power away from Westminster:
'We can’t wait five years to affect change in people’s lives. We must begin organising in communities now, and resist the Tories every step of the way — in parliament, on the streets, and in our workplaces. As leader, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you – in every campaign against Tory cuts, with every minority community and all migrants against Johnson’s hateful agenda, and with trade unions in every struggle to protect workers’ rights.'
Despite a shaky start to her campaign, Long Bailey – alongside Keir Starmer – is regarded as a shoo-in for the final round of the contest. She ough to sail through both the parliamentary round and the CLP/affiliate stage. That means she can focus her efforts entirely on winning over the membership. Helping her here, Long Bailey has a good chance of winning the backing of the pro-Corbyn grassroots group Momentum as well as the support of several unions. Although Keir Starmer is the favourite to win according to a recent YouGov poll, Long Bailey enters the contest with significant backing and support from influential figures.