Hustings verdict: on this showing, the excitement is in deputy contest – and leadership hopefuls have lot to learn

Reactions to deputy hustings show what could have been if left had more than one candidate in leader race


Yesterday the SKWAWKBOX attended both the leadership and deputy leadership hustings in Liverpool. The strongest impression the day left was this: the excitement is in the deputy contest.

During the morning session, the serious leadership candidates appeared unwilling to put too much of themselves on show, with both Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer largely cautious in their statements and their responses to questions, while the format barred the audience from challenging trite or disingenuous answers.

The fact that the right had clearly drummed up as many of its supporters as it could to clap wildly for every rote response by its hopefuls couldn’t disguise just how drab and unconvincing they were.

Boycott the S*n – for now

Starmer, for example, went for an easy win by saying he wouldn’t be giving interviews to the S*n – but only for as long as the leadership contest lasts. Nobody was able to challenge him about what would happen after the contest – but the bet-hedging response he gave when a journalist asked him that later in the day would certainly have dampened the cheers at the hustings if anyone had been able to ask:

Well, let’s get to be leader first, and then you can come back and ask me again.

Of the others, Jess Phillips raised groans by claiming, in a series of me-centric answers, that Boris Johnson would be terrified to face her, while Thornberry hectored the audience and Nandy gave a competent performance but without much to say.

Deputies lead the way

But what a contrast in the deputy leader hustings, which had Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler speaking for the left, full of energy and pulling no punches – shining an unflattering light on the gaping lack of substance of Ian Murray and the staged smile and soundbites of Rosena Allin-Khan.

Favourite Angela Rayner started well but looked wooden by the end and was not helped by her position next to the animated and fluent Dawn Butler and the conviction of Richard Burgon.

Both Butler and Burgon garnered cheers from the crowd for their clear solidarity with members, with powerful comments on why they weren’t signing up to the Board of Deputy’s demands – and their closing statements captured the stand-out qualities of both:

As the deputy hustings closed, both Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler were thronged by well-wishers, with many members saying that they had changed their mind about how to vote as a result of what they had seen and heard. There was a palpable buzz about the whole event – and comments along the lines of ‘if only this was the leadership contest’ were common.

The SKWAWKBOX warned during the parliamentary nominations phase that the leadership race would be the poorer – and members less inspired – by having only one left candidate on offer.

The proof of that was in Saturday’s hustings, as the deputy contest showed how members can be energised and enthused by a battle of styles and conviction among candidates who are willing to say and to stand up for what they believe in and who have been consistent in their commitment to the cause.

If any of the realistic leader candidates want to get close to the energy and sense of excitement that marked the deputy hustings, if they hope to create a buzz among the members and a sense of investment in the result, they have a distance to go and no time to waste in raising their game.

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  1. I will vote for Butler and hope that many others see the sense in voting for somone whos not taken the oath of allegiance to the AS scam . At least the ones that voted for the new BOD scam have shown us they have no leadership qualitys and no principles..

    1. Whilst Butler will get my Preference vote, my primary vote will be going to Richard. However, in the interests of balance, I’ve been of the opinion for some while that the Party actually requires a duel Deputy Leadership, with one spot for a woman and the other for a man – Butler & Burgon would make a good mix with each appealing to different segments of both the Labour Party and the Electorate itself – not being one for tokenism, or political correctness, Ms Butler has earned her spurs, whilst Burgon has grown on me greatly once the spot light has been off Corbyn.

      As with the author, I was less than impressed with the actual Leadership contestants, that said, if we desire not to facilitate the dreams of Progress/Labour First its essential that we throw our weight behind RLB, who it would seem has some potential, just a shame she failed to show some steel by not taking diktats from Tory leaning organisations themselves in want of a democratic overhaul.

  2. Never really had much of an opinion of Butler before. Cometh the hour, cometh the women. She’s good.

  3. Does anyone know where the recording of the leadership debate can be found? I could only find the deputy debate which seems strange…

  4. Butler did not reject the B.O.D demands, she said she wouldn’t comment until after the EHRC Report. Fence sitting can be a painful experience.
    The ‘Hustings’ were controlled & sanitised as the invited audience were denied direct questioning & written questions were ‘lumped together’ to form a topic to be vaguely addressed.

    1. It is troubling that even the best criticism is so muted. This isn’t an issue for prevarication – it’s a matter for truth-telling and raising awareness with confidence.

      Those of us who have prior knowledge and insight don’t just have an opinion about this – we have knowledge of the facts and the background – facts that have been horrendously suppressed in our State that is developing an uncanny likeness to the East Germany of the Stasi (see the recent list of ‘terrorist’ organisations’) and Erdogan’s Turkey.

      Milk and water hesitancy will *not* win this battle with the Right’s alliance with the new-colonialist apartheid of Israel. Above all, it does absolutely nothing for the wider Jewish community who have the intelligence to recognise the establishment scam that has stolen their identity.

      Burgon and Butler have stood up to the pressure, and I will be voting for one of them. But, to be honest, their opposition to the BoD is less than resounding. Apart from the membership, there are thousands of Jewish people who need to be supported and enlisted by a campaign against the right-wing clique represented by the BoD.

      As to the Leadership candidates : well, RLB may be Uncle Len’s favourite, but as far as I’m concerned, the term ‘left’ is pretty meaningless if she submits the knee to the BoD (that rhymes 🙂 ).

      That’s the point – it’s not just about Israel/Palestine and the Right’s lies – it’s about bottle and pressure under fire. I may have had reservations about Corbyn’s approach to the issue – but he was never guilty of crumbling in this way.

      So – for me – whether the issue is a candidate’s willing support for the Israel Lobby, or their lack of bottle in standing against it, I find little to distinguish them (except the Joker in the pack – Phillips, who is simply unbearable by any criterion). This action overrides any mouthed hustings platitudes.

      If I vote at all, it will be on the pragmatic grounds of who is most likely to deal with the blanket hostility of the media bias without just giving them sweeties.

      1. RH
        As things stand best we can do is take guidance from JVL
        Its early days, let’s see what happens

      2. Indeed, Doug – the JVL has been an oasis of sanity and thoughtfulness in all this. It speaks volumes that they are kept at arms’ length whilst the JLM – which campaigned against the Party – is embraced with open arms.

        Leadership candidates accepting the BoD demand to determine ‘the right sort of Jew’ and slagging off loyal groups like the JVL is a truly pathetic sight, to say the least

        Something rotten, methinks.

      3. RH
        At end of day members will decide and the BoD10 is not acceptable to vast majority
        Leadership candidates will be under enormous pressure to get real, the deputy debate has opened it up
        Politicians normally go for lowest common denominator,
        Which was why JC was such a breath of fresh air and trebled membership

      4. So JVL is kept at ‘arms length’ is it, and the JLM is ’embraced with open arms’!

        Care to elaborate RH? I doubt it somehow cos it’s just complete and utter bunkum. But pray, do tell, just WHO precisely was/is ’embracing JLM with open arms’ etc. I mean it’s so divorced from reality it’s farcical, but THAT’s what shills get paid to do. Talk about asinine platitudes!!

        Yes, of course the plotters fully support what the JLM have been doing over the course of the past four years or so, and of course JVL have been more-or-less completely ignored by the MSM et al, but you omit to make this distinction. I wonder why!

    1. Note the news that Hall is stepping down as Director General. That’s no problem – but it gives the extremist Tories free reign to find a worse placeman.

  5. “Jess Phillips vows to stop acting ‘statesmanlike’ ” [The Groan]

    I must have missed something …. :-). When did she start?

  6. I think that a party led by Jess would be just what Murdoch and his cronies want. Someone so vacuous that they can manipulate. Watching the hustings the other day I think this is how it planned out:

    5th place, Jess Phillips, incoherent, ill-informed & hopeless.
    4th place, Emily Thornberry, some good interventions but I can’t forgive her for her part in the remain confusion that led to our defeat.
    3rd place, Lisa Nandy, some good points but too much baggage regarding her undermining of Jeremy.
    2nd Place, Keir Starmer, coherent but who can trust someone who becomes part of the coup because everyone else did so. Where was that independent mind!
    1st place, Rebecca Long-Bailey, coherent, passionate and will inspire the membership.

    1. I would have placed Emily Thornberry 2nd and Keir Starmer 4th. On 2016 ET stood by Corbyn while KS resigned because most people did. Plus, KS rather than ET was the architect of the position on remain that led to our defeat.
      I don’t believe that RLB will inspire the membership. Compare her performance with Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler and the difference is there. However, will concede that RLB is the best in a bad litter. If ever considering voting for anyone (it looks like I will abstain) I will vote for RLB.

      1. “the position on remain that led to our defeat”

        You mean the extended and confused period of shadowing the Tories and UKIP/Brexit Party, of course, rather than the too late arrival at a coherent and mature opposition stance that stood a chance of claiming members and supporters holding the majority view back from the LibDems and Greens?

        Pity it was too late.

  7. Just got an email from momentum for a chat with Double barrel Bailey tomorrow night in a discussion about policy.Does she not realise that shes owned by lansman now?

    1. Her name can be triple-barelled as far as I’m concerned. It’s beside the point.

      But you’re right about the appointment of Lansman. Whether she’s ‘owned’ by him is a moot point – but it’s an symptom of terrible judgment.

  8. Deputy Leadership:

    5th place, Ian Murray, who? If he wasn’t there no one would have missed him!
    4th place, Rosina Allin-Khan, does her shift in A&E respect for that but was not very good putting across her policies.
    3rd place, Angela Rayner, supposedly the one to beat on this evidence she wasn’t as good when I saw her in Birmingham during the election. Perhaps the pressure is getting to her?
    2nd place, Richard Burgon, powerful, thoughtful and stood up for Jeremy and took no crap from the BOD.
    1st place, Dawn Butler, without doubt the stand out performance. Integrity, passionate, warm and engaging. All the things you expect from Rayner but Butler not bested her but I believe she is the one to beat now. Astonishing performance. I was going to vote for Burgon but if Butler keeps this up I will vote for her.

    1. Yes, Butler is warm and the more inspiring speaker over Burgon. But in terms of content I’m especially interested in their positions on internal party democracy. Butler said she’d “look again at the democracy review”. A pretty mealy-mouthed choice of words. By comparison Burgon said he supports mandatory reselection. Above all else I want to see the small moves under Corbyn towards a democratised party protected and expanded. My fear is most of the candidates will backtrack on all of that to make sure a left wing leader doesn’t have a chance of getting near power again. If that happens the hopes for progress and the labour Party will be lost. And we – the people and the planet – can’t afford that risk.

  9. “and members less inspired – by having only one left candidate on offer”

    If she was truly on the left she wouldn’t have Lansman as her campaign manager, and she wouldn’t be sucking up to RW Israeli Lobbyist groups such as BOD, LFI and JLM which will destroy the LP Left. I can’t bring myself to vote for any of those who accepted the BOD demands. However, If I remain in the LP until the voting (which is unlikely) I will only vote for deputy leader Richard Burgon who is the only socialist amongst all of the frauds

    1. Btw I forgot to mention – Dawn Buitler threw Chris Williamson under the bus. No time for the woman

  10. A new IpsosMORI poll of voters found that Keir Starmer was the clear favourite of the four Labour leadership contenders when judged on ‘having what it takes to be a good prime minister’. He had a +7 rating, compared to Lisa Nandy on -3, Emily Thornberry on -21 and Rebecca Long-Bailey on -28. Starmer was the most likely to attract new voters to Labour.

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