Long-Bailey scores Corbyn '10 out of 10' as she launches campaign

Shadow business secretary says former leader was right man to lead party into election

Rebecca Long-Bailey has said Jeremy Corbyn scored “10 out of 10” as leader of the Labour party as she kicked off her campaign to succeed him.

The shadow business secretary defended Corbyn’s record and blamed the election defeat on the party’s failure to issue strong enough rebuttals when he was “savaged by the press”.

Asked by ITV News how should would rate Corbyn as a leader out of 10, Long-Bailey said: “I thought Corbyn was one of most honest kind principled politicians I’ve ever met … I’d give him 10 out of 10, because I respect him and I supported him all the way through.

“What we can’t ignore was that Jeremy was savaged from day one by the press ... We have a role as party to develop the image of our leader and to put them forward in the most positive way, but we also have a duty to rebut criticism and attacks. As a party we needed to have a rebuttal unit, a clear structure in place to rebut the attacks against him.”

Long-Bailey is the favoured candidate of many on the left of the party, including allies of the current leadership, but she denied being the “continuity Corbyn” choice, saying: “I’m not anybody’s continuity candidate.”

The MP kicked off her campaign in an article in Tribune magazine on Monday night, in which she said party needed “a leader that can be trusted with our socialist agenda”.

She later conceded in a BBC Radio 4 interview on Tuesday morning that Labour was not trusted at the polls on Brexit, antisemitism or economic credibility but defended Corbyn’s time at the top for bringing in radical policies and changing the debate.

The shadow business secretary said Corbyn would ultimately bear responsibility for one of Labour’s worst general election defeats but she said he would “go down in history” as having set out a radical raft of policies.

Rebecca Long-Bailey

A close ally of the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, the Salford MP and shadow business secretary has been groomed as a potential leftwing contender for the top job.

Pitch Promising to champion “progressive patriotism”.

Lisa Nandy

The Wigan MP has built a reputation as a campaigner for her constituency and others like it, many of which have fallen to the Tories. A soft-left candidate, she resigned from the shadow cabinet in 2016 over Corbyn’s leadership and handling of the EU referendum.

Pitch Wants to “bring Labour home” to voters that have abandoned the party in its traditional strongholds.

Keir Starmer

Ambitious former director of public prosecutions has led the charge for remain in the shadow cabinet. He was instrumental in shifting Labour’s position towards backing a second referendum

Pitch Launched his campaign by highlighting how he has stood up for leftwing causes as a campaigning lawyer, and unveiled the slogan “Another Future is Possible”, arguing "Labour can win again if we make the moral case for socialism"

Long-Bailey, who is the sixth candidate to declare for the leadership, is considered a frontrunner alongside the shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she indicated she would be willing to launch a nuclear strike as prime minister and outlined a pro-immigration stance, dismissing claims that workers from abroad who come to the UK depress wages.

The 40-year-old lawyer said: “We’ve just suffered one of our worst electoral defeats on record and I don’t think we can underestimate the impact that has on the party and the amount of work that needs to be done.

“It’s quite clear that we can’t carry on as we were before but we need to recognise the reasons for that defeat. There were a number of reasons as to why we lost trust in our communities.

“Brexit was one. We weren’t trusted on Brexit. We weren’t trusted as a party to tackle the crisis of antisemitism, we weren’t trusted on our policies, no matter how radical or detailed they were, they simply didn’t hit the ground running in many of our communities in terms of demonstrating that economic credibility. And we struggled to get out what I term as a coherent narrative and a real strategy throughout that campaign.

“Many of the very positive elements of the manifesto which we knew had scored very highly in polling before, such as industrial strategy, a green industrial revolution, they really weren’t pushed to the extent they should have been.”

Asked about criticism on the doorstep of Corbyn’s leadership, Long-Bailey said: “Jeremy had suffered unprecedented levels of criticism and attack against his own personal character and he was very resilient throughout. I supported Jeremy, I still support Jeremy because I felt that he was the right man with the right moral integrity to lead the party.”

When pointed out that he lost the election “catastrophically”, she replied: “Any leader who leads us into a general election defeat needs to take responsibility. But he also set out a radical platform for policy development which involved the grassroots and our trade unions, and developed some of the most exciting, innovative policies that we’ve seen in a generation. And I think he’ll go down in history as the leader that has done that.”

Pressed on whether Corbyn had got it wrong on anything specifically, including antisemitism, she replied: “We weren’t strong enough on antisemitism and I’ve been quite clear about that before.”

Meanwhile, the deputy leadership contender Rosena Allin-Khan claimed no one trusted Labour on either side of the Brexit debate and voters did not believe the party was credible to govern.

The A&E doctor, who has been MP for Tooting, south London, since 2016, said Labour made strategic errors during the election that left voters confused. The 43-year-old shadow minister for sport argued the party was too slow to articulate its Brexit policy, which was to negotiate a deal with Brussels and then have a second referendum.

Rosena Allin-Khan
Rosena Allin-Khan has joined the race for Labour’s deputy leadership. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

Scotland’s only Labour MP, Ian Murray, has also announced he is throwing his hat into the ring for the deputy leadership. The 43-year-old outlined his bid in a piece for the Daily Mirror, writing: “To win again we will need to beat the odds and I know how to win by building broad coalitions of support.”


Simon Murphy and Rowena Mason

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Rebecca Long-Bailey launches Labour leadership bid
Shadow business secretary criticises the party’s strategy in last month’s disastrous election

Rajeev Syal

06, Jan, 2020 @10:47 PM

Article image
Labour leadership: Unite backs 'brilliant' Rebecca Long-Bailey
‘Becky has both the brains and the brilliance to take on Boris Johnson’, Len McCluskey said

Heather Stewart

24, Jan, 2020 @6:35 PM

Article image
Angela Rayner 'will endorse' Long-Bailey for Labour leadership
Source close to Rayner dismisses speculation she will launch own leadership bid

Rajeev Syal

30, Dec, 2019 @10:30 PM

Article image
Labour leadership: Momentum urges members to back Long-Bailey
Campaign group calls Long Bailey ‘only viable candidate’, and backs Angela Rayner for deputy leadership

Nicola Slawson

11, Jan, 2020 @5:50 PM

Article image
Labour leadership: Long-Bailey, Nandy and Phillips win backing
Three more candidates secure enough MP nominations to join Keir Starmer in next stage

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

09, Jan, 2020 @7:25 PM

Article image
Rebecca Long-Bailey: we must become 'salespeople for socialism'
Labour leadership candidates set out priorities at first hustings event of campaign

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

18, Jan, 2020 @6:04 PM

Article image
Long-Bailey pledges to reform Labour party after 'mismanagement'
Salford and Eccles MP says promotions will be based on ‘what you know, not who you know’

Heather Stewart Political editor

03, Feb, 2020 @6:55 PM

Article image
Rebecca Long-Bailey wants to abolish the House of Lords
Labour leadership contender also says she would not block Scottish independence vote

Kate Proctor Political correspondent

12, Jan, 2020 @10:38 AM

Article image
Rebecca Long-Bailey makes her opening pitch for Labour leadership
Shadow business secretary pledges in Guardian article to pursue ‘progressive patriotism’

Andrew Sparrow Political correspondent

30, Dec, 2019 @7:30 AM

Article image
Rebecca Long-Bailey calls on rivals to back public ownership
Labour leadership contender urges pledge for ownership of energy, water, rail and mail

Kate Proctor and Heather Stewart

29, Jan, 2020 @9:20 PM