“Labour leadership race is not a game”

Yvette Cooper.
Yvette Cooper.

Four candidates including Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper are in the running to become the next Labour leader.

The line-up was completed by a last-minute rush to secure enough nominations for veteran MP Jeremy Corbyn’s place on the ballot.

MP Andy Burnham

MP Andy Burnham

Mr Corbyn secured 36 nominations, one more than the 35 required, with the last pledges of support coming within seconds of the midday deadline.

Yorkshire Labour MPs Richard Burgon, Sarah Champion, Jo Cox, Louise Haigh and Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett were among his backers.

Mr Corbyn said: “My candidacy marks the launch of a broader anti-austerity movement to shift the terms of political debate in this country by presenting an alternative to the socially devastating and widely discredited austerity agenda.”

The backing for the Islington North MP followed pleas within the party for the full range of Labour views to be represented in the leadership election.

Shadow Minister for the Care of Older People, Liz Kendall, chats with a group of people  in Kirkby last Friday about the provision of care.

Shadow Minister for the Care of Older People, Liz Kendall, chats with a group of people in Kirkby last Friday about the provision of care.

But critics argued his nomination showed Labour was not serious about confronting the failings that led to its General Election defeat and the inclusion of Mr Corbyn would skew the tone of the leadership debate.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann said: “So to demonstrate our desire never to win again, Islington’s Jeremy Corbyn is now a Labour leadership candidate.”

Alex Belardinelli, an adviser to Ed Balls before he lost his seat in May’s election, wrote on Twitter: “This isn’t a game. Labour is supposed to be trying to elect a leader who can be a credible and winning candidate for Prime Minister in 2020.”

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham emerged with the highest number of nominations, 68, and secured the backing of more Yorkshire colleagues than his rivals.

MP Mary Creagh

MP Mary Creagh

Ten Yorkshire Labour MPs backed Mr Burnham, including frontbenchers Hilary Benn, Michael Dugher and Rachel Reeves.

He said: “I am grateful for the support I’ve received from colleagues across the Parliamentary Labour Party – MPs from all over the country with a breadth of different experiences and viewpoints.

“I know that Labour needs big changes to reach out and rebuild trust. That’s why I have worked to secure the strongest mandate for change by working across the spectrum.

“It’s now essential that we listen to hundreds of thousands of party members – many of them new members – as well as affiliated and registered supporters. This has to be more than a leadership election, it has to be a campaign for Labour to reach out to every corner of the country and win again.”

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, secured 59 nominations, including the support of six Yorkshire colleagues.

In a speech Ms Cooper said there should be no “no-go areas” for Labour as she criticised the “narrow strategy” under Mr Miliband. In the 2015 election, I don’t believe most people felt any party was facing up to those future challenges, or showing how we can earn prosperity and security in that changing world.

“Labour couldn’t reassure those who felt threatened by change, nor could we convince those who wanted to be optimistic for their children that we had a credible enough plan for the jobs and opportunities they wanted,” she said.

Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall is the fourth name that will appear on the ballot following her 41.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh was seeking nomination but last week withdrew from the race.

The election result will be announced in September.