Next Labour Leader Betting: Who Will Succeed Jeremy Corbyn?
The post-mortem began less than a minute after 10pm last night, when the exit poll accurately predicted Labour's worst result since 1935. Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he won't lead Labour into another election but, frustratingly for the 6/1 bet advised in January on all three party leaders leaving post in 2019, he hasn't resigned yet.
Nevertheless, the leadership contest is effectively underway. When it starts officially, so too will a deputy leadership election. One leading candidate for either post, Laura Pidcock, will not be involved having lost her seat.
In my last update, I recommended two bets - 6/1 about Keir Starmer and 5/6 about any woman leader.
Both are strong positions. Starmer is half those odds at 9/4 generally with Political Betting Sites and almost all his credible rivals are women. The only other man I can see competing seriously is Clive Lewis (28/1 with Betway), who has been reported as a likely runner.
So much depends on how the party explains defeat. There will inevitably be a narrative, booming out of Westminster TV studios, that they need to ditch Corbynism, Momentum and that radical manifesto. That the only way to defeat the Tories is to reposition in the centre ground.
Obviously Corbyn's leadership, divisions and controversies such as anti-Semitism, and a manifesto lacking credibility, played a big part. I often felt over the past year that a Starmer-led Labour would be winning.
However these are only partial explanations. Regardless of Corbyn or manifestos, last night was fundamentally about Brexit and the divisions it has amplified. Labour's national poll share was 6% higher than when losing power in 2010, yet they won fifty fewer seats.
The numbers reflect an ideological re-alignment that has been underway for over a decade. Older, whiter, socially conservative, non-university educated voters have been moving Right. Younger, diverse, liberal, university-educated types to the Left. Brexit accelerated and entrenched those divisions.
Consequently, the Labour brand has become poisonous in the towns that determine England's political balance, as has the Tory brand in the cities. Labour’s problem is that there are many more constituencies of the former type than latter.
Therefore, one would think any meaningful reflection on their defeat would focus on the need to reconnect the two. So which candidates will do that?
The case for Starmer is strong on competence grounds. He looks and sounds like a PM. His forensic questioning of Boris Johnson at PMQs will yield plenty of wins. However he is also an elite London lawyer, representing a constituency absolutely nothing like the type they need to win.
That, plus the lack of a solid support base amongst the party faithful, makes me sceptical. I've cashed out the earlier position at the shorter odds.
Who Can Take Labour Forward?
Only three plausible candidates strike me as having the ability to cut across. Angela Rayner (8/1 with Bet365) will be a top Labour figure for decades. If she runs for either post, the Shadow Education Secretary will be very strong. Much more so than, from the same generation, Rebecca Long Bailey. She's shorter at just 9/2 with Paddy Power because the backing of John McDonnell is assumed.
Just as we await Rayner's plans, so too the woman I have argued should be leader ever since 2015. Had Lisa Nandy responded positively to a Facebook campaign imploring her to run against three uninspiring candidates from the Blair era, Corbynism may never have happened.
18/1 with Betway, Nandy’s reputation has advanced since. She became respected across the House of Commons and an occasional TV pundit. Despite it putting her at odds with the membership, Nandy was adamant about the need to deliver some form of Brexit, lest they alienate core constituencies.
Her Wigan seat neighbours Leigh - arguably Labour's worst loss - so nobody is better placed to explain what went wrong, and set out a narrative to change it. With Brexit now unavoidable, I reckon this is the message the party desperately wants to hear.
Phillips A Contender
The third woman who might be capable of reviving Labour's fortunes is Jess Phillips. She is expected to run and her odds have duly crashed to 6/1 with Coral.
Phillips may well be the most electable but her bid is hampered by baggage with her own party. When saying she would 'stab Jeremy in the front', she made an influential bunch of enemies. That made innocuous remarks about being friendly with Jacob Rees Mogg unforgiveable.
I wouldn't rule her out. Her plain speaking criticism of both Boris Johnson and the far-left will cut through. Many members, if not a majority, will agree. Perhaps thousands more will join the party to help her save it, as they did for Corbyn in 2015.
If so, somebody like Nandy might well support her but I'm happy to take 18/1 with Betway in hope she goes for it herself.
- Keir Starmer for Next Labour Leader - 8/1
- Next Labour leader to be a woman - 10/11
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