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Labour leadership candidates to go head-to-head at hustings – as poll gives Starmer lead | Politics News



Labour’s five leadership candidates are going head-to-head in the first public hustings of the campaign, as a new poll gives Sir Keir Starmer a commanding lead over Rebecca Long-Bailey.

The hustings, in Liverpool, are the first of at least a dozen over the next 11 weeks and could have a major bearing on who emerges victorious when the result is declared at a special conference on 4 April.

Just hours before the hustings begin, a poll of Labour Party members by YouGov in The Times, suggests Sir Keir could win the leadership contest with 63% of the votes, with Ms Long-Bailey polling just 37%.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Labour MP Sir Keir Starmer speaks at the Mechanics Institute, best known as the birthplace of the British Trade Union Congress, as he launches his leadership campaign on January 11, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
A YouGov poll suggested Sir Keir Starmer is favourite to win the Labour leadership

But a poll earlier this week by another pollster, Survation, gave Ms Long-Bailey a narrow leader over Sir Keir and she has also won the backing of Momentum, which said it would be “mobilising thousands” to campaign for her.

On the eve of the hustings, Ms Long-Bailey and outsider Emily Thornberry formally launched their campaigns, with the left-wing shadow business secretary addressing a packed rally of 300 supporters in Manchester.

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In her speech, she promised to end the “gentlemen’s club of politics” by devolving power out of Westminster and also pledged to introduce a “Green New Deal” that unites Labour heartlands.

She said: “The story of the last few years is that many people feel there is something wrong with their laws being drafted hundreds of miles away by a distant and largely unaccountable bureaucratic elite in Brussels.

“But I’ll be honest, Westminster didn’t feel much closer, and it still doesn’t today.

“That’s why I want to shake up the way government works and deliver a clear message to voters: we will put power where it belongs – in your hands.”

Launching her campaign near the estate where she grew up, Emily Thornberry has spoken about the tough childhood she had.

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Speaking in her hometown of Guildford, Ms Thornberry made a combative speech in which she stressed her experience and launched a series of attacks on the prime minister.

“I’ve led the charge as shadow foreign secretary against Donald Trump and the war in Yemen, and in the two years I shadowed Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, I showed him up every time for the lying, reckless charlatan that he is,” she said.

She told her supporters: “In my 42 years as a member of the Labour Party, there is no fight or campaign our movement has waged where I have not been on the frontline.

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“And since coming to parliament 15 years ago, I’ve also been on the frontline in the fights against climate change, universal credit and anti-abortion laws in Northern Ireland.”

The three outsiders in the race, Ms Thornberry, Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy will not be too downhearted by the YouGov poll, pointing out that at this stage of the 2015 Labour leadership campaign Jeremy Corbyn was way behind his rivals in the polls.

They will hope that strong performances in the hustings, or slip-ups by the two front-runners, could alter the course of the campaign and lead to a shock result like Mr Corbyn’s victory over more established candidates in 2015.

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