Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 2007
The 2007 Labour Party leadership election was formally triggered on 10 May 2007 by the resignation of Tony Blair, Labour Leader since the previous leadership contest on 21 July 1994. At the same time Blair resigned, John Prescott resigned as Deputy Leader triggering a concurrent election for the deputy leadership.
Informal campaigning had been ongoing ever since Tony Blair's original announcement in 2004 that he would not be fighting a fourth general election as leader. Pressure for a timetable eventually led him to announce on 7 September 2006 that he would step down within a year. Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) met on 13 May 2007 to decide a timetable. Nominations opened on 14 May and closed at 12:30 UTC+1 on 17 May 2007.
Blair said he expected Gordon Brown to succeed him, and that Brown "would make an excellent Prime Minister". When nominations for the leadership elections opened, Blair was one of those nominating Brown. From the start most observers considered Brown the overwhelming favourite to succeed Blair; John McDonnell, his only challenger, failed to secure enough nominations in order to get onto the ballot and conceded defeat to Gordon Brown. Brown received 313 (88.2%) nominations to McDonnell's 29 (8.2%), making it mathematically impossible for anyone other than Brown to be nominated.
The election process concluded with Gordon Brown being declared leader at a special conference on 24 June 2007. On 27 June, Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and was succeeded as Prime Minister by Gordon Brown.
John McDonnell and Gordon Brown were the only candidates as the election process began with the nominations round. In order to secure a place on the ballot paper, candidates needed to submit their nominations to the NEC by 17 May supported by at least 12.5% of Labour MPs (45 Labour MPs, including the candidate themselves). Gordon Brown, the only successfully nominated candidate, was declared leader at a special Labour conference on 24 June 2007.
- Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, long the favourite candidate to succeed Tony Blair, received 313 nominations and was successfully nominated.
- John McDonnell, chair of the Socialist Campaign Group, pledged to merge Old Labour and New Labour into what he calls Real Labour and "save the Labour government from itself". He was hoping to get the backing of all those who had been backing Michael Meacher, but did not do so; with 29 nominations he was 16 short of the minimum required number and was not successfully nominated.
- Michael Meacher (withdrew on 14 May 2007), former Minister of State for the Environment, was a candidate but had to withdraw after failing to get enough nominations. On 27 April 2007, McDonnell and Meacher announced that whichever of them had the support of fewer Labour MPs at the point of Tony Blair's resignation would withdraw from the campaign and support the other. On 10 May 2007 they delayed their announcement because "levels of support for each were too close to call". He gave his support to John McDonnell on 14 May 2007, but not all his supporters switched allegiance.
Nominations and result
|Gordon Brown||Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath||313||88.2%||Yes|
|John McDonnell||Hayes and Harlington||29||8.2%||No|
Only Gordon Brown attained over 45 nominations and was thus elected unopposed.
Suggested candidates who declined to run
During the months running up to Tony Blair's resignation, media attention focused on a wide range of Labour politicians, most of whom publicly refused to stand:
- Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for International Development, was touted as a possible candidate to succeed Tony Blair. However, he backed Gordon Brown.
- Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary, had insisted he would stand if David Miliband did not, but later softened his position with praise for Brown and saying that the Labour Party didn't have the appetite for a contest. He indicated that he would like to serve in a future Labour Cabinet; however, he was not offered any position, and lost his seat in the subsequent general election.
- John Hutton, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, had said there should be a serious contender to Gordon Brown, but on 6 May 2007 declared his support for Brown.
- Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education. In Autumn 2006, he was being touted as one of very few serious contenders, alongside John Reid, but later backed Gordon Brown.
- Glenda Jackson, MP for Hampstead and Highgate and former transport minister, who repeatedly threatened to stand as a stalking horse candidate against Tony Blair from 2005 onwards, however backed Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership.
- Lynne Jones, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, said that she would stand against Gordon Brown for the leadership, as a leftwing candidate. However, she later backed John McDonnell.
- David Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Speculation that Miliband would be persuaded to stand was intense during spring 2007 including suggestions that Tony Blair saw David Miliband as a possible successor to him. However, Miliband declined to stand, saying publicly that this had been his unwavering position for three years and that he would vote for Brown.
- Alan Milburn ruled out standing for the Labour leadership on 11 May 2007, but previously had refused to rule it out.
- John Reid, Home Secretary, had said he would not reveal whether he would stand or not until there was a vacancy, but on 6 May announced he would be voting for Brown and had decided to leave the Cabinet along with Blair.
- Jack Straw, Leader of the House of Commons, announced on 25 March that he would be running Gordon Brown's leadership campaign. He was appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice in Gordon Brown's first cabinet.
- Labour Party (UK) deputy leadership election, 2007
- United Kingdom general election, 2010
- Blair–Brown deal
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