Sussex weighs in on race for leadership of Labour Party

4/7/8- Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham visiting the Conquest Hospital, Hastings back in  2013. ENGSUS00120130407121717

4/7/8- Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham visiting the Conquest Hospital, Hastings back in 2013. ENGSUS00120130407121717

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Sussex has weighed in on the four-way race to be the next leader of the Labour Party.

Eastbourne’s Constituency Labour Party has thrown its weight behind Andy Burnham, wheras Wealden’s CLP has chosen Jeremy Corbyn.

Over in West Sussex Mid Sussex has come out for Mr Burnham, both Crawley and Bognor Regis & Littlehampton have declared for Mrs Cooper, while Horsham has picked Mr Corbyn.

Liz Kendall has not yet received any nominations from any of the constituency Labour branches in Sussex.

Although the nominations from local branches have no direct weighting in the contest, they provide an insight into how the candidates are faring among Labour party members. As the only Labour MP in Sussex, Hove’s Peter Kyle has nominated Ms Kendall.

Bookmakers originally installed Mrs Cooper and Mr Burnham, both prominent members of former leader Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet, as clear favourites at the start of the contest.

But recent media speculation has focused heavily on Mr Corbyn and the possibility that the veteran MP for Islington North, who is seen by many as a radical left-winger, might actually triumph when the final results are announced in September when balloting of party members closes.

Several leaked private polls have shown Mr Corbyn well ahead of the other three candidates in first preferences, but much closer once second preferences are taken into account.

In his pitch to members on Labour’s website Mr Corbyn argued that ‘austerity policies are harming people’s life chances and taking away opportunities’, and felt that they had to become an anti-austerity movement.

Candidates needed to be nominated by 35 Labour MPs to make the ballot, and some who backed Mr Corbyn said they had done so to ‘widen the debate’ not actually expecting him to win. Last week they were described as ‘morons’ by one of Tony Blair’s former advisors, with some MPs such as Margaret Beckett accepting the criticism.

Back in 2010 Ed Miliband narrowly beat out his brother David to be elected as leader under a three-way electoral college system where votes from the Parliamentary Labour Party and MEPs, party members, and trade union and affiliated societies were given one-third weighting each.

These rules were changed and now candidates are elected by members of the party and registered and affiliated supporters, who receive a maximum of one vote each.

Mr Burnham also ran in this contest and finished fourth with 8.68 per cent of first preferences.

Although the deputy leadership race has attracted less nominations Mid Sussex has backed Stella Creasy, while both Eastbourne and Bognor Regis and Littlehampton have picked Tom Watson.

Other candidates looking to become deputy leader are Caroline Flint, Angela Eagle, and Ben Bradshaw.

Before May’s general election with polls showing little margin between Labour and the Conservatives, many expected some Tory incumbents in Sussex to be run close. In Hastings and Rye incumbent Amber Rudd increased her majority as did Henry Smith in Crawley, while Simon Kirby held on to Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven by a margin of 690 votes from Labour’s Nancy Platts.

The Conservatives gained all three of these constituencies in the 2010 general election and given the amount of seats the Labour Party lost in Scotland if they want to make large gains in England and Wales in 2020 these are the sorts of places that they have to win back to regain power in Westminster.

If and when the CLPs in Hastings and Brighton nominate leadership candidates it should provide a particularly telling look at who the branches think is most likely to lead Labour to future general election victories in their areas.

For more information on each of the candidates visit www.labour.org.uk/leadership

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