2020 Labour Party leadership election

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2020 Labour Party leadership election
← 2016 21 February – 4 April 2020 (2020-02-21 – 2020-04-04)
  Official portrait of Rebecca Long Bailey crop 2.jpg Official portrait of Lisa Nandy MP crop 2.jpg Official portrait of Keir Starmer crop 2.jpg
Candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey Lisa Nandy Keir Starmer
Parliamentary nominations 33 31 88
CLP/Affiliate nominations 164 CLPs, 7 affiliates 72 CLPs, 4 affiliates 374 CLPs, 15 affiliates

Incumbent leader

Jeremy Corbyn

The 2020 Labour Party leadership election was triggered after Jeremy Corbyn announced his intention to resign as leader of the UK's Labour Party following the party's historically poor defeat at the 2019 general election. It is being held alongside a deputy leadership election.

To qualify for the ballot, candidates needed nominations from 10% (22) of the party's Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of European Parliament (MEPs), followed by support from either 5% (33) of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), or from at least three affiliated groups, including two trades unions and representing at least 5% of affiliated members.

Five candidates, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry received sufficient nominations to proceed to the second round of nominations. Starmer had the most nominations from MPs and MEPs at 88, followed by Long-Bailey and Nandy with 33 and 31 nominations respectively. Phillips and Thornberry each received 23 nominations, one above the minimum threshold to proceed.

Three candidates, Long-Bailey, Nandy and Starmer, received sufficient combined support from affiliates and constituency parties to proceed to the final ballot. Starmer received the most nominations from both CLPs and affiliates having received nominations from 374 CLPs and 15 affiliates, followed by Long-Bailey with 164 CLPs and seven affiliates, and finally Nandy with 72 CLPs and four affiliates.


Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour Party leader in a 2015 leadership election and re-elected leader in 2016 after a challenge from Owen Smith. While Labour gained 30 seats in the 2017 general election, it lost 60 seats in the 2019 election, resulting in the party having its lowest number of seats in the House of Commons since 1935.[1][2] Corbyn subsequently announced that he would resign as Labour Party leader after a "process of reflection".[3][4]


The election will be conducted under a pure "one member, one vote" (OMOV) system, using an alternative vote voting method to calculate the result.[5][6] Candidates will be elected by members and registered and affiliated supporters, who all receive a maximum of one vote and all votes will be weighted equally. This means that, for example, members of Labour-affiliated trades unions need to register as affiliated Labour supporters to vote.[7] Members who joined before 20 January will be eligible to vote.[6]

To stand, candidates needed to be nominated by at least 10% of the combined membership of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP), meaning 22 MPs and MEPs at the time. As a result, a maximum of nine candidates can stand. They also needed to be nominated by at least 5% of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), meaning at least 33 CLPs, or at least three party affiliates that consist of at least 5% of affiliate members including at least two trades unions.[5][8] Affiliates consist of affiliated trades unions, socialist societies and the Co-operative Party.[8][9]

The timetable for the election was set by the party's National Executive Committee on 6 January 2020.[10]

Nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party and European Parliamentary Labour Party opened on 7 January and closed on 13 January. Between 15 January and 15 February, constituency parties and affiliate organisations could nominate their preferred candidate. Applications to become a registered supporter opened on 14 January and closed on 16 January. Voting in the membership ballot opens on 21 February and closes at midday on 2 April. The result of the leadership election will be announced on 4 April.



Immediately following the 2019 general election, Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, was considered favourite to win the leadership election by the online gambling company Betfair.[11][12] Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, was considered another front runner.[13] Various other figures were considered as possible leadership candidates, including Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan, who said on 15 December 2019 that she was "seriously thinking" about running for the leadership.[14] On 29 December, Long-Bailey wrote an article for The Guardian declaring her interest in standing and laying out her strategy for a "progressive patriotism".[15]

Some party figures, including the former MP Caroline Flint and the MP Wes Streeting, argued for a "clean break" from the previous leadership. However, Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union, said that the next leader should "carry on the tradition", describing Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner as his preferred candidates.[16][17] Party figures affiliated with Long-Bailey and MPs such as Corbyn, as well as centrist figures like Alastair Campbell, encouraged supporters of their preferred candidates to join the party to vote in the leadership election.[18][19] Roy Hattersley, a former deputy leader of the party, wrote on 21 December that MPs should refuse to accept Long-Bailey if she were elected leader.[20]

The shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, was the first to announce that she was standing for the leadership on 18 December.[21] She laid out her pitch in an article for The Guardian.[22] She said that her first priority would be to deal with antisemitism in the party by implementing recommendations from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.[23] She criticised Corbyn's senior advisers for overruling her as the shadow foreign secretary and for their strategic decisions in the 2019 general election.[24][25]

Clive Lewis, the shadow minister for sustainable economics, announced on 19 December that he would stand.[26] He said that as leader, he would give more democratic power in the party to its members.[27] He argued that the party should work more with other political parties on the left, and proposed constitutional reforms including supporting proportional representation and reform of the House of Lords.[28][29] In January 2020, he proposed a referendum about the future of the British royal family.[30] He was criticised for his response to claims against him of sexual harassment, for which he had been cleared by a disciplinary body within Labour, which "seemed unapologetic".[31]

Jess Phillips announced her candidacy in Grimsby on 3 January 2020.[32] She criticised the party's approach to Brexit and Scottish independence, saying that she was opposed to a second referendum on Scottish independence.[33] She said that she would be open to arguing for the UK to rejoin the European Union.[34][35] Criticising the party's manifesto at the 2019 general election, Phillips said that she would support nationalising railways but would not prioritise further nationalisation.[35]

Nandy announced that she would stand in a letter to the Wigan Post on the same day as Phillips.[36] She argued that the party needed a "bridge" to join areas in northern England where the party was losing seats and metropolitan areas where the party was gaining support.[14]

Starmer, who a poll had indicated was the most popular potential candidate heading into the leadership election, announced his candidacy with a video posted to social media on 4 January followed by a launch in Stevenage.[37][38]

Long-Bailey announced that she would stand in an article for Tribune magazine on 6 January.[39] Long-Bailey is seen by many observers and party colleagues as the continuity candidate who would continue to take the party in the same direction as Corbyn.[40][41][42][43] While she has disputed the description,[44][45] her campaign has stressed ideological continuity with Corbyn.[46][47] She attracted attention for rating Corbyn ten out of ten as a politician.[48] She called for constitutional reform to spread power more evenly across the country, including abolishing the House of Lords.[33][49]

Nominations stage[edit]


Candidates first needed to receive nominations from at least 5% of the party's MPs and MEPs to progress to the second round of nominations. Starmer won the support of enough MPs and MEPs to progress to the next round of nominations on 8 January, when he was also endorsed by the trade union Unison.[50] The following day, Long-Bailey, Nandy and Phillips got enough MP and MEP nominations to progress.[51]

The deadline for PLP and EPLP nominations was 2.30 pm on 13 January.[52] Lewis, with only five nominations including himself, withdrew from the contest shortly before the deadline.[53] Thornberry was also short of the required nominations at the beginning of the day, but managed to obtain enough to qualify less than ten minutes before the deadline, helped by MPs who had formerly nominated Lewis.[54] After the close of nominations, the party announced that Long-Bailey, Nandy, Phillips, Starmer and Thornberry would proceed to the next stage of the election.[55] Starmer received 88 nominations, more than any other candidate, followed by Long-Bailey with 33 and Nandy with 31.[56] Phillips and Thornberry were each nominated by 23 MPs and MEPs, one more than the minimum requirement of 22. Shortly after these nominations were published, Starmer was heavily favoured in the betting odds.[54]

Constituencies and affiliates
Hustings in Bristol on 1 February 2020, during the nomination stage

Corbyn-supporting group Momentum balloted its members on a proposal that the group endorse Long-Bailey (alongside Angela Rayner for deputy). Of the 7,395 respondents 70% backed Long-Bailey, but the organisation was criticised for not giving the option to endorse other candidates by commentators[57][58][59] and some Momentum members.[60]

Starmer became the first candidate to qualify for the ballot on 20 January with his third affiliate nomination, from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers;[61] at that point, he was also leading in nominations from Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs). Phillips withdrew from the election on 21 January, saying that she was unable to unite the party.[62] Nandy became the second candidate to quality for the ballot on 22 January, having received backing from the GMB and National Union of Mineworkers unions and the Chinese for Labour socialist society.[63] Long-Bailey was the third candidate to qualify, following further trade union support.

However, Thornberry failed to achieve enough nominations, falling just short of the required number of constituency party nominations and being eliminated on 15 February 2020.[64]

Reported data breach

The Labour Party reported two members of Starmer's campaign to the Information Commissioner's Office on 6 February of hacking into the party's membership database. The campaign described the complaint as "utter nonsense". The campaign chair, Jenny Chapman, suggested the allegations were a result of the Starmer team alerting party officials the week before to a possible data breach by Long-Bailey's campaign.[65]

Membership ballot[edit]

The first public hustings to feature the final three candidates was held in Glasgow, Scotland.[66]



The following individuals were nominated by the necessary number of Labour MPs and MEPs as well as receiving backing from the required number of constituency parties or affiliated organisations to proceed to the final ballot before members.

Candidate Born Political office Campaign Announced Nominated
Official portrait of Rebecca Long Bailey crop 2.jpg
Rebecca Long-Bailey
22 September 1979
(age 40)
Old Trafford, Greater Manchester
Shadow business secretary (2017–present)
MP for Salford and Eccles (2015–present)
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (2016–17)
Shadow Treasury minister (2015–16)
6 January 2020 29 January 2020
Official portrait of Lisa Nandy MP crop 2.jpg
Lisa Nandy
9 August 1979
(age 40)
Manchester, England
MP for Wigan (2010–present)
Shadow energy secretary (2015–16)
Lisa Nandy for leader logo.png
3 January 2020 22 January 2020
Official portrait of Keir Starmer crop 2.jpg
Keir Starmer
2 September 1962
(age 57)
Southwark, London
Shadow Brexit secretary (2016–present)
MP for Holborn and St Pancras (2015–present)
Shadow immigration minister (2015–16)
Keir Starmer leadership campaign 2020 logo.png
4 January 2020 20 January 2020


Emily Thornberry failed to receive backing from the required number of constituency parties or affiliated organisations.

Candidate Born Political office Campaign Announced Eliminated
Official portrait of Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP crop 2.jpg
Emily Thornberry
27 July 1960
(age 59)
Guildford, Surrey
Shadow First Secretary of State (2017–present)
Shadow foreign secretary (2016–present)
MP for Islington South and Finsbury (2005–present)
Shadow Brexit secretary (2016)
Shadow defence secretary (2016)
Shadow employment minister (2015–16)
Shadow Attorney General (2011–2014)
Emily Thornberry for Labour Leader logo.png
18 December 2019 15 February 2020


The following candidates withdrew either during the process to receive nominations from MPs and MEPs or during the process to receive nominations from constituency parties or affiliated organisations.

Candidate Born Political office Campaign Announced Withdrew
Official portrait of Clive Lewis crop 2.jpg
Clive Lewis
11 September 1971
(age 48)
London, England
Shadow treasury minister (2018–present)
MP for Norwich South (2015–present)
Shadow business secretary (2016–17)
Shadow defence secretary (2016)
Clive Lewis for Leader.jpg
19 December 2019 13 January 2020
Official portrait of Jess Phillips MP crop 2.jpg
Jess Phillips
9 October 1981
(age 38)
Birmingham, England
MP for Birmingham Yardley (2015–present) Jess Phillips leadership campaign 2020 logo.svg
3 January 2020 21 January 2020
(Endorsed Nandy)


The following individuals were discussed in the media as potential leadership candidates, but chose not to stand:


Candidates first needed to be nominated by at least 10% (22) of current Labour MPs and MEPs, who comprise the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP). Candidates who passed this threshold then need nominations from at least 5% (33) Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), or at least three affiliates including at least two trades unions that together represent at least 5% of affiliated members.[8]

The table below shows the number of nominations achieved by each candidate. A green background indicates that the candidate met the nomination requirements. A pink background indicates that the candidate withdrew from the contest.

Candidate First stage
Labour MPs and MEPs
Second stage
Constituency Labour Parties Affiliates
Nominations[80] % Nominations[81][82] % Nominations[81][82]
Keir Starmer
88 / 212
41.5% Green tickY
374 / 648
57.7% Green tickY
15 / 32
Green tickY
Rebecca Long-Bailey
34 / 212
16% Green tickY
164 / 648
25.3% Green tickY
7 / 32
Green tickY
Lisa Nandy
31 / 212
14.6% Green tickY
72 / 648
11.1% Green tickY
4 / 32
Green tickY
Emily Thornberry (eliminated)
23 / 212
10.8% Green tickY
31 / 648
4.8% Red XN
0 / 32
Red XN
Jess Phillips (withdrawn)
23 / 212
10.8% Green tickY
0 / 648
0 / 32
Clive Lewis (withdrawn)
5 / 212
Total nominations
198 / 212
641 / 648
26 / 32
  1. ^ Starmer did not formally nominate himself, therefore the Labour Party lists him as having received 88 nominations, whereas some reports of the contest list him as having received 89 nominations
  2. ^ Bradford West CLP's nomination was declared void due to procedural errors, so has not been counted
  3. ^ Not including Lewis's nominations and not taking Starmer as having nominated himself
  4. ^ Not including Bradford West CLP's nomination



Candidate status
Nominated, on the membership ballot
Eliminated during the nominations stage
Withdrew from the election
Corbyn announces his resignation
Nominations from the PLP and EPLP close
First leadership hustings
Nominations from CLPs and affiliates close
Membership ballot opens
Membership ballot closes
Result announced
Clive Lewis (politician)Jess PhillipsEmily ThornberryKeir StarmerLisa NandyRebecca Long-Bailey




  • 3 January: Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy announce their candidacies
  • 4 January: Keir Starmer announces his candidacy
  • 6 January: Rebecca Long-Bailey announces her candidacy
  • 7 January: Nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) open[83]
  • 13 January:
    • Lewis withdraws his candidacy
    • Parliamentary nominations close at 14:30; Long-Bailey, Nandy, Phillips, Starmer and Thornberry proceed to the next stage[84]
  • 15 January: Nominations from constituency parties (CLPs) and affiliate organisations open
  • 18 January: The first leadership hustings is held in Liverpool
  • 20 January: Starmer receives the required number of nominations to progress to the membership ballot[61]
  • 21 January: Phillips withdraws her candidacy[62]
  • 22 January:
    • Nandy receives the required number of nominations to progress to the membership ballot[63]
    • Phillips endorses Nandy
  • 29 January: Long-Bailey receives the required number of nominations to progress to the membership ballot[85]
  • 31 January: The United Kingdom officially leaves the European Union and begins an eleven-month transition period


  • 12 February: A televised debate is held during a special edition of Newsnight[86]
  • 15 February: Constituency and affiliate nominations close at midnight; Thornberry fails to receive the required number of nominations and is eliminated
  • 21 February: Labour Party members receive postal ballots and online voting forms


Campaign platforms[edit]

Long-Bailey campaign

Long-Bailey has promised that she will continue to develop the "Green New Deal" policies that she had introduced to the party's 2019 election manifesto.[87]

She has stated that if she wins the leadership election the Labour Party will maintain its commitment to bring energy, water, rail and mail back into public ownership.[88]

Long-Bailey called for constitutional reform to spread power more evenly across the country, including abolishing the House of Lords.[89]

In response to the release of U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Long-Bailey criticised the proposals, stating that they would "only perpetuate conflict" and "undermine rights of the Palestinian people".[90]

Nandy campaign

In January, Nandy accused the Blair and Brown governments of continuing the "consensus that Thatcher built".[91] She criticised New Labour for being "as tight as the Tories". She called for "a modern, empowering welfare state for the 21st century".[92] She has praised Corbyn for shifting party policy towards a position that opposes austerity[citation needed] and has stated her intention to abolish Universal Credit.[93][94]

During the party hustings held in Bristol, Nandy argued that the honours system should have references to the British Empire removed, and instead replaced with 'Excellence'.[95]

Nandy has defended free movement within the European Union, while also arguing that concerns about its flaws should not be simply dismissed as "racist anti-immigrant rhetoric".[96]

Nandy is opposed to Scottish independence and argued that Labour should "look to Catalonia and Quebec" as examples for dealing with "divisive nationalism",[97] later clarifying that the party can learn from the Socialist Party in Spain that has show how "the cause of social justice has beaten divisive nationalism".[98] She has said she wants Scottish Labour to be represented in the shadow cabinet[99] and has also pledged not to interfere in devolved policymaking, allowing Scottish Labour to decide their own approach to independence.[100] She also stated that British federalism would not resolve the political division between England and Scotland.[101]

In February, deputy leadership candidate Richard Burgon proposed a "Peace Pledge" to ensure that party would not support future military action unless its members vote in favour of such a policy.[102] Nandy voiced her strong disproval of the pledge. She argued that civilians in war zones could not afford to wait for such a ballot to pass and it was irresponsible to share such classified information.[103]

In an interview with The Jewish Chronicle, Nandy acknowledged that the party had lost the trust of the British Jewish community as a result of its "failure of leadership" and poor handling of antisemitism in the Party. She also said that she believed that the word 'Zionism' had become "horribly distorted and weaponised" by some in the party; Nandy denounced those who questioned Israel's right to exist and reiterated her view that advocating the rights of Palestinian does not contradict support for Israel.[104] She has chaired Labour Friends of Palestine since 2018.[citation needed]

When she spoke to the Evening Standard in January, Nandy called on party general secretary Jennie Formby to publish the evidence that had been submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, as part of the commission's investigation into institutional antisemitism in the party. She added that openness and transparency would necessary to rebuild trust with the British Jewish community.[105]

Nandy has said that she will conduct a "fair recruitment process" for parliamentary candidates and end the practice of "parachuting" those favoured by the leadership. She criticised the centralised approach taken during the 2019 general election, in which a number of candidates were "imposed" by Corbyn and his allies.[106] Nandy has also stated that she would end the practice of nominating peers to the House of Lords. This announcement came after the Labour Party controversially nominated John Bercow, former Commons Speaker, and Karie Murphy, Corbyn's former chief of staff.[106][107]

During a speech in Bassetlaw, one of the "red wall" constituencies gained by the Conservatives in 2019, Nandy announced that a future shadow cabinet led by her would involve the representation of local Labour councillors, giving a seat to the elected Leader of the Local Government Association Labour Group.[106][108] She also pledged that she would give councillors the right to nominate candidates in future leadership elections, just as MPs and MEPs had during the previous month.[108]

Starmer campaign

Starmer has positioned himself in opposition to austerity, stating that Corbyn was "right" to position Labour as the "party of anti-austerity".[109][110] Starmer has indicated he will continue with the Labour policy of scrapping tuition fees. He has also pledged to renationalise the railways, Royal Mail, water companies and the energy companies. Starmer has called for ending outsourcing in the NHS, local government and justice system.[111]

In February 2020, Starmer announced that he would continue the policy introduced under shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, to raise taxes on the top 5% of earners with incomes of more than £80,000.[112][113]

Starmer has argued that the party should propose the reintroduction of free movement within the European Union.[114]

In response to the release of Trump's peace plan to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Starmer described the proposals as "inconsistent with international law and human rights protections".[115]

Hustings and debates[edit]

Public hustings[edit]

Several hustings events are taking place throughout the campaign, for both leadership and deputy leadership candidates.[116] Labour-organised hustings are taking place on weekends throughout January and February 2020, at 11 locations in Great Britain. There are no hustings in Northern Ireland.[117]

Date Moderator Region Venue Map
18 January 2020 Liam Thorp
(Political Editor, Liverpool Echo)
North West England Arena and Convention Centre,
25 January 2020
Yorkshire and the Humber Royal Armouries,
1 February 2020 Doina Cornell
(Leader of Stroud District Council)
South West England Ashton Gate Stadium,
2 February 2020 Ruth Mosalski
(Political Editor, Wales Online)
Wales City Hall,
8 February 2020 Rachel Shabi
(journalist and author)
East Midlands Nottingham Trent University,
13 February 2020 Robert Peston
(Political Editor, ITV News)
London Liberal Jewish Synagogue,
St John's Wood[122]
15 February 2020 Cara Hilton
(Chair of the Scottish Labour Party)
Scotland SEC Centre,
16 February 2020 Kevin Courtney
(General Secretary of the NEU)
London University College London,
22 February 2020 TBA East of England TBA,
23 February 2020 TBA North East England TBA,
29 February 2020 TBA South East England TBA,

The locations sparked criticism from some candidates because of lack of geographic spread.[123] After the backlash, two new events were later added by Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), in Leeds and Brighton, although the Leeds event was subsequently cancelled after Starmer dropped out due to his mother-in-law being critically ill.[119] The Guardian also announced that they will host a hustings in Manchester on 22 February, chaired by journalist Anushka Asthana.[124] Starmer's mother-in-law passed away on 9 February, resulting in the postponement of the Dudley hustings scheduled for that day.[125]

Televised debates[edit]

On 12 February, a debate took place on Newsnight, moderated by presenter Katie Razzall and broadcast on BBC Two. A second debate was held on the following day, moderated by Victoria Derbyshire on her programme.

No. Date and time Location Programme Broadcaster Presenter(s) Viewers
 P  Participant     A  Absent invitee    O  Out of race (eliminated or withdrawn)    N  No debate Long-Bailey Nandy Starmer Thornberry
Before the close of nominations
1 12 February 2020; 22:30 Broadcasting House,
Labour Leadership 2020: A Newsnight Special BBC Two Katie Razzall TBA P P P P
2 13 February 2020; 09:30 Broadcasting House,
Victoria Derbyshire: Labour Leader Special BBC Two Victoria Derbyshire TBA P P P P
After the close of nominations
3 17 February 2020; 20:00[a] Town Hall,
Live: The Labour Leadership Debate Channel 4 Krishnan Guru-Murthy TBA P P P O
  1. ^ Originally scheduled as a public hustings to be held on 9 February 2020


Candidates and potential candidates have also received the support of organisations, publications, and of notable individuals. This list does not include official parliamentary, constituency or affiliate nominations.

Rebecca Long-Bailey

Lisa Nandy

Keir Starmer

Withdrawn candidates
Clive Lewis was endorsed by the journalist Paul Mason before he withdrew.[43] Before she withdrew, Jess Phillips was endorsed by the journalist Matthew d'Ancona, the Labour peer Philip Hunt and the former MP Melanie Onn.[140][141][142]

Opinion polls[edit]

Pollster/client Sample size First round Final round
Cooper Lewis Long-Bailey Nandy Phillips Starmer Thornberry Long-Bailey Starmer
13–15 January 2020 YouGov/The Times 1,005 Labour members - - 32% 7% 11% 46% 3% 37% 63%
8–13 January 2020 Survation/LabourList 3,800 LabourList readers - - 42% 7% 10% 37% 1% 51% 49%
21–31 December 2019 YouGov/Party Members Project 1,059 Labour members 8% 8% 23% 6% 12% 36% 7% 39% 61%

See also[edit]


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