Rebecca Long Bailey has pledged to “fight the establishment tooth and nail” as she announced her bid for the Labour leadership this morning.
The shadow business secretary had been widely expected to run, and she is viewed as a continuity candidate with close links to Jeremy Corbyn. Long Bailey joins five other candidates including shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, outspoken backbencher Jess Phillips and high profile former minister Lisa Nandy.
Setting out her stall in a comment for left wing publication Tribune, Long Bailey made it clear her commitment to the Corbynite cause was unshaken despite Labour’s “devastating” result in last month’s general election.
Noting that she didn’t “just agree with the policies, I’ve spent the last four years writing them”, the frontbencher claimed the reason for her party’s loss was “that Labour’s campaign lacked a coherent narrative. But this was a failure of campaign strategy, not of our socialist programme”.
In particular she claimed Labour’s climate change plans, dubbed its Green New Deal, were “tragically undersold”. Making this front and centre is one of Long Bailey’s plans to regain support, as is her promise to “never throw migrants or BAME communities under the bus”.
“We must defeat Johnson and the nationalist right, never pander to them,” Long Bailey said.
But she has also pledged to maintain the break with New Labour’s regime, in an apparent sideswipe against some of her moderate rivals in the leadership contest.
“Many candidates in the leadership election say they will not return to the triangulation and Tory-lite policies that held our party back before Jeremy,” she wrote. “But we need a leader that can be trusted with our socialist agenda. A leader who is totally committed to the policies and has the political backbone to defend them. We need a proud socialist to lead the Labour Party, driven by their principles and an unwavering determination to see democratic socialism in our lifetime.”
Long Bailey also appears to suggest that Labour should not have campaigned alongside David Cameron against the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, saying the Better Together campaign represented one of the instances when the party had been “too close to the establishment we are meant to be taking on”.
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