Labour Leadership Candidate Statements

Leadership and Deputy Leadership Candidate Montage Image

Many thanks to all the candidates for writing to our members in support of their nominations. We are pleased to present their statements here for you to read

Candidates for Labour Leader

Rebecca Long-Bailey

MP for Salford and Eccles

“Like all Labour members, I am devastated we lost the election. After a decade of Conservative government we face entrenched inequality, 4 million children growing up in poverty, a climate emergency and an emboldened far right.

We had a chance to help turn back the tide, but we failed. The starting point in the leadership election is to be honest and self-critical about why and then look forward and forge our path to power.

We lost trust with voters – over Brexit, over antisemitism, over a lack of unity in our party and because we failed to set out a convincing narrative for what we would do in government.

We have to learn the lessons of this but we can’t despair. We have another round of elections in May and the escalating crises we face mean that building a winning vision of a socialist future has never been so urgent.

My vision is one of a democratic, aspirational and decarbonised society that hands wealth and power back to ordinary people. I believe we can build a green, democratic future that bridges the deep divides in our electoral coalition.

But we must democratise our party and we must embrace radical democratic reform in the country, taking power out of Westminster. In the words of the great Nye Bevan: “the purpose of getting power is to be able to give it away.”

This is my ambition – an aspirational, socialist, democratic future that can unite the country and build our path back to power.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey

Lisa Nandy

MP for Wigan

Christians have been pioneers in the Labour movement. The Tolpuddle Martyr George Loveless, believed passionately that his faith intended every person to take an active part in the fight for what is right ‘so that no longer would the interests of the millions be sacrificed by the gains of the few’.

Today there has never been a greater need for the type of divine discontent that Hardie demanded to meet the profound challenges we face. Inequality is boring deep scars into our nation, minorities feel under siege, the planet - our precious inheritance - is in crisis.

To meet these challenges, we have to be guided by our principles. My Labour, our Labour must always be a light on the hill for people in times of darkness and steadfast in our commitment to build a better world.

That’s why I felt I had to stand up to the Prime Minister when he backtracked on his promise to support child refugees. I told him directly that if he thought he had a mandate to abandon promises made to the world’s most vulnerable he was wrong:

We must hold onto that principle. Our communities though cannot wait five years for us to put our principles into action. As Christians you know the power of bringing communities together to build change, and that is what we must do and I will do as Labour leader.

At times of division, churches have acted as a cohesive force, drawing together different sections of the community for peace, justice and solidarity. 

Finally, I know you, like me, were deeply pained by the antisemitism that has stained the party in recent times. We must do whatever it takes to rebuild and restore the trust of our Jewish brothers and sisters and the ten pledges from the Board of Deputies must be the starting point. Righting the wrong of the antisemitism crisis will be my first priority. 

Amid the hurt of this election defeat there is hope. Rebuilding cannot wait. I am standing to be the leader of the Labour party to lead a compassionate, radical government that I firmly believe most people want and deserve. That change doesn’t start in five years time, it begins now, with all of us and we will win, together.

Lisa Nandy

Keir Starmer

MP for Holborn and St Pancras

The Christian Socialist movement is a fundamental part of the Labour Party’s history, dating back to Keir Hardie. I believe we still share many of those common goals. I want to lead the Labour Party into government to create a fairer and more equal society – principles which I know are deeply held by Christians on the Left.

The strength of our movement comes from its breadth, but if Labour is to succeed, we must be more united, welcoming and inclusive. I want Party members to feel they can share ideas and that their contribution is valued – principles echoed in CotL’s recent campaign, ‘Love your CLP’. This is the type of culture I want to foster at every level of the party, characterised by listening, positivity and respect.

In turn, it is critical that as a movement we are dedicated to protecting the rights and safety of faith groups. It is a sad fact that we are led by a Prime Minister who has made disparaging remarks about religious minorities. We must show such comments and attitudes are completely unacceptable. I want to build a welcoming society in the UK for all religions. I will continue the fight internationally for everyone to express their faith without fear of persecution, wherever they are in the world.

As Labour leader, I want to build on the legacy of my predecessors by supporting Christians in the Left alongside other faith groups – for example by attending the church service which opens conference and provides an important moment of reflection and contemplation.

I also want to ensure that CotL’s activism is drawn upon in Labour’s work in opposition. In particular, CotL’s recent campaigns on climate change and poverty, ethical banking, tax evasion or arms sales must also be priority issues for Labour to tackle.

If Labour unites, we can and we will win. Another future is possible and I believe we can deliver it by drawing on the strength of every part of our movement.

Keir Starmer

Emily Thornberry

MP for Islington South and Finsbury

Dear Friends,

The Labour Party is at a crossroads. We have a moral imperative to challenge the worst excesses of this Tory government and ensure we win the next election, with a leader who will stay true to our values in the process.

I’ve been a Labour member for 42 years and I know that our Party’s greatest strength is our activists’ fierce commitment to social justice. Our founding fathers owed so much to Christian teaching, and the church’s beliefs in fairness, equality and freedom from poverty or persecution are interwoven with our own.

I can lead our Party in building the policy foundations for a society where no-one is left behind, where we never walk by on the other side, with a clear and ambitious plan to tackle inequality, repair the welfare safety net and protect our public services.

As Shadow Foreign Secretary, I am proud of the work I have done in standing up for human rights across the world and holding Boris Johnson to account for the entire two years he was Foreign Secretary.

I challenged the government on their disgraceful decision to deny asylum to Asia Bibi, who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan simply for practising her Christian faith. Alongside Helen Goodman, I’ve challenged the government about the treatment of the Christian community in China, whose pastors have been arrested and their churches shut. And I’ve pressed the government to make the role of the Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion a permanent post.

The UK must also be the world leader when it comes to fighting climate change, and challenge the culture of greed that has led us to this point and focus on fulfilling our role as stewards of the natural world. I will insist overseas aid is spent on tackling poverty and protecting vulnerable communities, not on funding private sector contracts in the developing world. As leader, I will listen to Christian Aid and CAFOD when taking any decisions in this area.

Likewise, I will always listen to our formidable campaigners for peace and disarmament when conflicts arise abroad, as I have done when speaking out against the disastrous war in Yemen.

But to achieve these objectives, we must do this together, and we need a formidable and experienced campaigner to lead us, so please join me in moving our party and our country forward.

Best wishes,

Emily Thornberry




Candidates for Labour Deputy Leader

Rosena Allin-Khan

MP for Tooting

Growing up on the breadline, as a mixed race child, with a single mum, under Margaret Thatcher’s Government of the 80s, meant that the odds were stacked against my brother and I.
Constantly told that there was a ceiling on what I could achieve, when I failed my exams, my dreams of serving my community looked to be over.

A Labour Government transformed my life and enabled me to go to medical school and become an A&E doctor, where I still do front-line shifts. I am determined that no person should have a limit placed on them by this Conservative Government. As an MP, I’ve taken my passion for Labour values across the world in humanitarian crises, working with the most vulnerable. Only when we give a voice to the voiceless, can we create a more equal society.

As a proud Muslim, I believe that faith has a very important role to play in modern society. Religion encourages us to explore our beliefs, deepening our values of social justice and equality - core principles of us all in the Labour Party. 

I represent a very diverse area of London which is home to people who practice a wide variety of different beliefs. When people from different faiths come together in a community, we share visions, cultures and beliefs. I am proud to stand alongside local religious and civic leaders every year at our annual Multifaith Peace Ceremony. I love being part of a community that comes together to work towards a common goal - we can achieve so much when we work together. 

As Deputy, I will always strive to ensure the Labour Party is a safe space for all faiths. I will lead from the grassroots, to listen to members and voters and together evaluate why we lost the last four general elections, then move forwards, starting by winning the elections in May. Only by actively listening, then evaluating our mistakes, can we then look to rebuild trust in the Labour Party.

I would give our emergency service workers a voice on shaping their future by offering them a reduced rate to join our party - we will fight to save our NHS from the Tory sell-off.

My aim is clear: to take Labour forward together, start rebuilding trust in our communities across the UK ahead of May’s local elections and crucially, win the next General Election.

Rosena Allin-Khan

Richard Burgon

MP for Leeds East

As Deputy Leader, my focus will be on building powerful local campaigns that show, day after day, whose side we’re on and that create a Labour Party rooted in every community. 

There will be important parliamentary battles ahead to try to limit the damage of Boris Johnson’s push for Thatcherism 2.0. But as Deputy Leader, I mainly want to be out campaigning across the country and getting the Party election ready.

We must ensure we learn the lessons of our defeat - but the right ones. I fully back the policies of our last two manifestos which offer real answers to the problems communities face.

But we must make our policies resonate better. As Deputy Leader, I’ll overhaul our campaigning so we focus on 10 key policies that are easily explainable on the doorstep.

Labour’s membership are the backbone of our Party. I’ll ensure they have a greater say in deciding our Party’s campaigning priorities. I will fight for a fully democratic system for members to choose their Labour candidates.

Labour has to reconnect with all of our former heartlands - whether in towns or cities, Leave or Remain - and we must reflect the full diversity of the working-class in 21st century multicultural Britain. Any path to power requires us winning back the more than 50 Leave-supporting seats we lost. As Deputy Leader, I will chair a Special Commission on rebuilding all our lost support.

As someone raised as a Catholic, who attended a Catholic school, and represents a constituency with a strong Christian community - drawn partly from Irish immigration and African immigrants - I am fully supportive of the impressive social work churches are doing for example in supporting food banks. Likewise, Christians advocating social justice, compassion and humanity – like Tony Benn - have played a key role in shaping socialism in our country and internationally for example through liberation theology.

While I’m no longer religiously observant, I strongly defend the rights of people to freely practice their religion - where this does not undermine the rights of others - and have been concerned by restrictions on religious freedoms in some European countries in recent years.

Labour has always been a broad coalition of socialists, social democrats and trade unions. For me, that unity is our strength. I will work closely with the new Leader, whoever is elected, to focus on our main task: winning back power.

Richard Burgon

Dawn Butler

MP for Brent Central

Dear Christians on the Left,

I am writing to ask for your support for Labour’s deputy leadership. As a longstanding member of Christians on the Left and having worked closely with your organisation in Parliament, it would mean so much to have your nomination. I respect the incredible work that you do, for example campaigning for the living wage and against the cruel bedroom tax.

As a Christian, my faith plays an integral part in my life, providing me with a moral code and values at the core of my politics. We must treat others with humanity, kindness and dignity and it has been my pleasure to support your mission in Parliament. It’s an honour to regularly co-host the Christians in Parliament Afternoon Tea.

I’ve enjoyed supporting Christians on the Left at Labour conference and taking part in vital policy debates as a Westminster Abbey Institute Fellow. I support your work on immigration reform, looking at how we take a moral and ethical stance to support refugees. As Deputy Leader, I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure this moral code sits at the heart of our politics.

I want to thank members who worked with me to develop Labour’s Race & Faith Manifesto. I was proud to launch this manifesto demonstrating how much we value faith and our commitment to ensuring we strengthen every communities’ right to practice religion free from persecution. I was so energized by your messages during the campaign, so much so that I even incorporated it into my church address.

I have also worked with other Christian organisations doing such valued work in our communities. During my successful "Prepay Rip-Off" campaign I worked with  Christians Against Poverty, when we lobbied the CMA and energy companies to bring down the costs of bills.

I am committed to championing policies that value and accept all communities and their freedom. I will continue to be a powerful voice for Christians in Labour,
ensuring faith remains an important part of civic life. I will work tirelessly to prepare us for power and deliver a Labour government.

I am the best person to unite the party, win back disaffected supporters, animate our base and lead the fight back to government. Having served under
two Labour Prime Ministers and in Shadow Cabinet, I have the experience and vision to lead the party into government.
Warm regards,

Dawn Butler

Ian Murray

MP for Edinburgh South

The Labour movement has deep roots in Christianity and the Christian values of many of our party’s founders are central to understanding the development of socialism in the last century.

I don’t come from a religious background, but I have a deep understanding and appreciation for those who do, and I understand how central it is to many people’s lives.

This leadership and deputy leadership contest is an opportunity to deepen our appreciation of the values that we all share, irrespective of our own faith. We must focus less on our differences, and more on what positive action we wish to achieve. We have to step out our front doors, out of our echo chambers and keep our ears open and contribute.

The protection of human rights, including freedom of religion and belief, should be at the heart of Labour policy.

As a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the last parliament, I understand that Christians are the most persecuted group - with 80% of religious persecution globally. I believe genuine action on the persecution of Christians is long overdue and as a party I would like us to take a lead on this issue.

The issue of antisemitism has stained our party but also made us all think about how every group in society is treated by our movement. I want to ensure these issues are dealt with so will make it a personal responsibility as Deputy Leader to adopt a zero tolerance approach to any form of discrimination.

Christians and other religious groups and organisations are the lynchpins of our local communities. As Deputy Leader I would use that power in local communities to listen and learn about what local people want from a future Labour Government. It is through this local activism, service and charitable work that the relationship between politics and religion can help to make people feel that they do matter.

Religion and politics can often be seen as polarising, precisely because they deal with important matters that are deeply personal and close to our passions. Society is constantly changing: we are a country of many ethnicities, religions and beliefs.

That’s why it is important for you all to be involved in shaping our future.

As your Deputy Leader I would make sure your voice is not only heard but is critical to our future direction.

Ian Murray

Angela Rayner

MP for Ashton-under-Lyne 

I don’t have a traditional politician’s background. I was a teenage parent, carer for my own mother, and educated as an adult after dropping out of school. I provided for my son by working as a home help, on insecure contracts and inadequate wages.

The labour movement changed my life, when my fellow workers said I should be their union rep. I didn’t even know what a trade union was until then but it was through workplace activism that I received my education and found a vocation.

I have always lived by those values. Everything I do is about changing the lives of others who have similar challenges in their lives. Over the next five years, we must do that by organising and campaigning in the communities that will suffer again under a Tory government, and leading that is a role I relish as Deputy Leader.

But ultimately it must lead to another Labour government like those that created the council house, Sure Start and social security system I relied on. I believe we can win with a common-sense socialism, offering practical solutions to the problems people face, in a way they understand and believe.

As we begin the fightback, we must live our own values as a party. That starts with getting our culture right. We must deal with the hurt and pain that so many in the Jewish community now feel, making clear that we are a party for them as for people of other faiths. Where there is ignorance, we must educate; but where there is bigotry, we must face it head on.

As a political party, we will have disagreements. But we can settle them with respect rather than throwing around labels or even insults. As deputy leader I want to lead that culture change personally, and unite our party to win again.

I have excellent relationships with all the faith communities in my constituency and, as Deputy Leader, I will reach out to all. That includes Christians on the Left, and I look forward to joining you, for example at your Conference service.

That is my simple pitch to you: I will be a deputy leader who renews our electoral campaigning and organising in communities; changes our culture to unite our party; who will relentlessly take the fight to the Tories for five years - and always fights to win.

Angela Rayner

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commented 2020-02-05 13:10:49 +0000 · Flag
I am impressed with all the candidates and the way they addressed the sympathy they had with the CotL principles.

However, my preference for the leadership is Keir Starmer. This is based on seeing him ‘in action’ at Labour conferences (including questioning at fringe meetings) on TV (e.g. Andrew Marr), and especially in debates in Parliament (Parliamentary channel and Hansard website)

When I look at what is needed to ‘beat the Tories’, he is one candidate that stands out in terms of experience, ability and a record of working well with others.

Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer KCB QC MP Shadow Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union

Keir does not ‘stand on ceremony’ about his titles, but they do throw light on why he so suited to be Labour Leader and a future Prime Minister. He has not only experience outside ‘the Westminster bubble’, but has significant and relevant achievements in the wider world.

I love the quote ‘Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Sir Keir Starmer as Shadow Brexit Secretary and the Tories should be worried’

I felt that the way he defined a policy toward Brexit, and worked with Jeremy as Shadow Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union. His six points remain relevant in challenging the Government about the future relationship we have with the EU. His work on composite motions and then speeches at Labour Conference was inspiring. I have every confidence that he can unite the Party and make it an effective opposition which is ‘fit for purpose’ to be trusted in Government.

I noted his grasp of detail in criticising, indeed tearing apart, the Johnson Brexit agreement especially as it affected Northern Ireland. He read and absorbed the detail in less that 24 hours. He clearly understood the issues better that the Government minister and tore his arguments to shreds.
I can see him very effectively exposing every aspect of Conservative Government policy for what it is. Above all, making Johnson accountable for his promises and claims about what Brexit would bring.

There are things about him that make him an outstanding candidate. His past relevant experience and achievements speak for themselves.

After qualifying for the bar, he acted exclusively as a defence lawyer specialising in human rights issues. In 2008, he was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), holding the role until 2013.

He was appointed Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2002 and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2014 New Year Honours. He was sworn in as a Privy Councillor in 2017.

McDonald’s Corporation v Steel & Morris 1997 EWHC QB 366, known as “the McLibel case”, was an English lawsuit for libel filed by McDonald’s Corporation against environmental activists Helen Steel and David Morris (often referred to as “The McLibel Two”) over a factsheet critical of the company. Each of two hearings in English courts found some of the leaflet’s contested claims to be libellous and others to be true.

The original case lasted nearly ten years which, according to the BBC, made it the longest-running libel case in English history.1 McDonald’s announced it did not plan to collect the £40,000 it was awarded by the courts. Following the decision, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in Steel & Morris v United Kingdom the pair had been denied a fair trial, in breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a fair trial) and their conduct should have been protected by Article 10 of the Convention, which protects the right to freedom of expression. The court awarded a judgement of £57,000 against the UK government. McDonald’s itself was not involved in, or a party to, this action, as applications to the ECHR are independent cases filed against the relevant state.

In July 2008, Attorney General Patricia Scotland named Starmer as the new Head of the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions; he took over from Ken Macdonald on 1 November 2008. Macdonald, himself a former defence lawyer, publicly welcomed the appointment.

In February 2012, Starmer announced that Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and his former wife, Vicky Pryce, would be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice. Huhne became the first Cabinet Minister in British history to be compelled to resign as a result of criminal proceedings. Starmer had previously said in relation to the case that “[w]here there is sufficient evidence we do not shy away from prosecuting politicians”.

Starmer left office in November 2013, and was replaced by Alison Saunders. Later that month, the Labour Party announced that Starmer would lead an enquiry into changing the law to give further protection to victims in cases of rape and child abuse.[1

In his role as shadow Brexit secretary, Starmer questioned the Government’s “destination” for the UK outside of the European Union, as well as calling for Brexit plans to be made public. On 6 December 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the publication of such plans, in what some considered a victory for Starmer.