East Anglian Labour Parties opt for Sir Keir Starmer in leadership race
PUBLISHED: 12:31 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:31 14 February 2020
Constituency Labour Parties across the region are lining up to support Sir Keir Starmer in the race to become the party's new leader in the spring.
Six out of seven parties in Suffolk have supported Labour's former Brexit spokesman in the contest whose winner will be announced at the start of April.
West Suffolk has joined the Colchester and Clacton parties in nominating party business spokeswoman Rebecca Long Bailey in the leadership race. No parties in Suffolk or north Essex have nominated Lisa Nandy or Emily Thornberry. Ms Thornberry is still struggling to meet tonight's deadline to get enough nominations to get on the ballot paper - she needs the support of three more parties.
So far nationally 630 Constituency Labour Parties have nominated leadership candidates. Sir Keir has 370 nominations while Ms Long Bailey has 159. Ms Nandy has 71 and Ms Thornberry has 30.
Ipswich was one of the first constituencies to nominate Sir Keir - and has now been joined by five other parties in Suffolk.
In the running for deputy leader, Angela Rayner is in a clear lead nationally - and has the support of Ipswich Labour Party locally - but across the region other CLPs have nominated other potential deputies.
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Sir Keir is backed by Suffolk County Councillor Jack Abbott who said he was pleased to see he had won the support of so many constituency parties - including many in this region.
He said: "While not every member attends CLP meetings, these nominations do provide a really good litmus test of the strength of support behind Keir Starmer, in Suffolk and across the region.
"I am supporting his candidacy for Labour leader, not simply because of his vision, values and integrity, but because of his extensive track record of putting them into action. In order to win the next General Election, Labour needs to win back seats like Ipswich. I, and many, many others, believe that Keir Starmer is the person who will meet that challenge."
Ms Long Bailey's supporters include Ipswich councillor Shelly Darwin, who pointed out that a majority of Labour MPs are women - and felt that after 120 years it was time her party had a woman leader.
She said: "I am supporting her because I think she is very competent and she has had time to get experience as a member of the shadow cabinet in a very important economic role.
"She has done very well at Prime Minister's Questions and shown that she can stand up very effectively to Boris Johnson.
"I find her very relateable as a down to earth person who understands everyday people's struggles. That she is friendly, likeable and connects with people and that will be key to winning back the north rather than Kier's very front-line people's vote stance."
The leadership candidates took part in a televised debate on the BBC's Newsnight programme this week and ballot papers are due to be sent out before the end of this month.