Analysis comment Exclusive

Exclusive: Lansman, other allies ‘seeking support for Rayner leadership challenge’

Labour insiders say Rayner allies ‘seeking support from Unison types’ for leadership challenge – but left says deputy leader has ‘burned her bridges’

Angela Rayner, left, and former Momentum boss Jon Lansman

Allies of Angela Rayner are looking to capitalise on the weekend’s events by ‘seeking support from Unison types’ for a challenge to Keir Starmer’s ‘leadership’ of the Labour party, according to Labour insiders.

Rayner’s removal as party chair was widely briefed to the media in a bid to scapegoat her and other front-bench women for Keir Starmer’s disastrous by-election and local elections and her small band of supporters hope to leverage any sympathy to power a challenge to Starmer’s position.

Under Labour’s rules, 20% of MPs would need to support a bid in order to force a challenge against an incumbent party leader. Rayner’s allies hope to persuade ‘Unison types’ – meaning right-wing to soft-left MPs whose primary union affiliation is with the right-dominated giant union – to back a Rayner bid. Those currently ringing round to rally and gauge support include former Momentum boss Jon Lansman, as well as a handful of MPs.

However, Rayner’s standing with the left of the party has been hit hard by her previous support for Starmer and his withdrawal of the whip from former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as comments – outside the party’s rules – that she would personally suspend ‘thousands and thousands’ of members for upsetting those who insisted on voting on the reinstatement of Corbyn to the Labour ‘whip’.

Lansman, too, is dimly regarded by many left-wingers who blame him for losses in elections to Labour’s National Executive Committee, his actions in pressing for the disastrous 2019 referendum u-turn – and indeed for his part in the dire Long-Bailey campaign that allowed Starmer to win the party leadership in the first place.

One left-wing MP told Skwawkbox:

Angela burned her bridges with the left a long time ago, especially when she supported Keir withdrawing the whip from Jeremy and wanted to suspend thousands for wanting it restored. How could left-wingers still clinging to their Labour principles inside or outside Parliament consider backing her?

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