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Exclusive: left MPs urge Gardiner to challenge

‘Not strongly left but trustworthy’ and full of integrity, say MPs of Labour’s most genuinely forensic performer

A number of Labour MPs on the left of the party are urging Brent North MP Barry Gardiner to start a challenge for the Labour leadership, according to well-placed sources in the party.

Gardiner was the party’s best – and most ‘forensic’ media performer across two general election campaigns under Jeremy Corbyn and was sacked from the front bench by Keir Starmer in one of Starmer’s first acts after winning the Labour leadership last year, in a move many Labour insiders said was born out of Starmer’s insecurity about his own lack of charisma on camera.

Gardiner became known as the ‘smiling assassin’ because of his ability to very pleasantly dismember interviewers and their partisan nonsense, as these 2017 examples show:

He has continued that lethal incisiveness from the back benches.

Labour MPs are said to have warmed to the idea of a Gardiner challenge because of his appeal across the party and the fact that, while not strongly to the left of the spectrum, he always took a principled stand and never gave the time of day to those who were trying to prevent a Corbyn government – conduct seen as the diametric opposite to Keir Starmer’s pledge-breaking and timidity. One MP told Skwawkbox:

Barry’s left, but not that left – but there’s one thing he is and that’s very trustworthy and he never sided with the saboteurs against the leadership. When you look at Keir Starmer’s behaviour and all the promises he binned after getting elected, that’s worth a lot.

Another said:

If we can’t have a leader from the left, at least we can have one with integrity and intelligence.

Gardiner started to prepare a bid for last year’s leadership contest, but the then-establishment of the Labour left insisted that only Rebecca Long-Bailey could stand – despite warnings from the grassroots that many members would not back her – and his tentative nominations evaporated under pressure from those backing Long-Bailey, forcing Gardiner to stand down.

But 18 months of Keir Starmer’s unappealing mix of arrogance, bungling, weakness, insecurity, war on democracy and betrayals have left MPs across the spectrum disgusted and a Gardiner bid would carry a compelling weight – and his appeal across the movement makes him one of the few worthwhile candidates who could realistically gather the nominations necessary to make a challenge.

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  1. Very pleased to see this story as I sent an email to Barry Gardiner some days before (30 Sept), pleading with him to challenge Starmer for the Leadership. We can but hope.

  2. Must admit he was my first choice – I really like him.
    However we need a WOMAN as next leader ..

    My first choice – Dawn Butler .. there may be
    others who are more favoured by the left but
    Dawn is not a newbie and – mega points –
    has called Johnson a liar in Parliament.

    1. I couldn’t care less if it were to be a man or a woman, so long as they brought some sort of unity.

      Insisting on a woman leader is, simply, another distraction.

      …and before anyone starts name-calling, I voted for RL-B, last time.

    2. HolbyFanMw, we need a capable and safe pair of hands, no identity politics. I really like Dawn but the MSM would start attacking Butler of the £10,000 refurbishment of her bath that she charged as Parliamentary expenses.
      The fact that although living already in London she took a second resident charging it to her parliamentary expenses and make a bit of a killing out of it, by selling the initial property when the property market in London picked up.
      Dawn Butler did nothing wrong, she took advantage of the rules like many Tory MPs did. Remember the expenses scandal and the Tory MP that claimed over £1600 in expenses for a flouting duck house in his garden?
      I am afraid the MSM would make a quick meal of Dawn Butler, by resurrecting her expenses.
      Beside she came last on the Deputy Leader election. I believe Barry Gardiner is the better choice.

      1. Yes Maria you are right and Dawn unfortunately set herself up for criticism by the MSM and others. I wasn’t aware the expenses and the second home issues and would have supported her but this information changes things for me – I don’t like greedy people for whom a big salary and pension benefits are not enough and who milk the system for all its worth – and would not now vote for her for leader or deputy leader. In fact I am so disgusted that if I lived in her constituency I’d be hard pressed to vote for her at all.
        Regarding Barry Gardiner it shows you just how vindictive and stupid Starmer is when he ignores the obvious talent of people like Barry. If Starmer made appointments on the basis of merit Barry would be in a senior position in the shadow cabinet . Instead we have the drab and uninspiring ( but of course right wing) Nandy and Reeves who when they appear on TV ,put the audience to sleep. Of course Starmer does the same so he probably sees nothing wrong with this,
        Andy Mc Donald would be a good leader too. He is another decent clever man and has a more attractive personality than Barry and may have more appeal to voters. It was a great disappointment that neither of them ( or Jon Trickett or Ian Lavery) ran the last time. I truly think it was decided we needed a female leader and that why RLB was chosen.
        I also like Sam Tarry. He is a great speaker and as sharp as a needle but he was only recently elected and may be considered lacking in experience by some.
        Anyway any of them would be a vast improvement on Starmer.

      2. Yes, Sam Tarry has been one to watch for a while now. Gave good media performances thru the Corbyn years. A dark horse, perhaps?

      3. Reply to Timfrom
        Sam would be my choice now even though he is inexperienced but I think most people would want a more experienced MP as Leader. However if we got somebody decent they’d probably give Sam a shadow cabinet /front bench position. Its sad to see talent like his and the other Socialists wasted on the back benches but then that’s Labour under Starmer

  3. Here we go and I bet you know what I’m thinking?

    “Nothing Will Change” Starmer or Gardiner have nothing to do with the shit we’re in It’s the Labour Party itself and the centre of all Shit the PLP!

    I see this as nothing but the right wing wild card. they’ve been waiting to land on us after all the fucking purges lies and smears.

  4. Articulate, quick on his feet, knows details, lawyer(ah!).

    Well, at least he’s an honest lawyer – unlike Starmer.

    Not sure how he’s viewed within the party. Has support, but how much support?

    1. Well, at least he’s an honest lawyer – unlike Starmer.

      Not sure how he’s viewed within the party. Has support, but how much support?

      Look at your first sentence. (Honest lawyer? Never knew there was such animal, but for the purposes of pedantry I’m prepared to let that pass 👍😋)

      Then take it that’s how he’s viewed by keef. And keef doesn’t like people being perceived as better than himself – so that means everyone. And if keef don’t like it, his lickspittles don’t, neither.

  5. The party dodged a bullet when RLBailey was not selected, when answering a question from Robert Peston at the Labour Leadership hustings. Question, was it “anti-Semitic” to “describe Israel, its policies, or the circumstances around its foundation as racist.” RL Baileyand and Lisa Nandy said yes it was. What a pair of sycophants they have stabbed Corbyn in the back to further their careers. They dodged a bullet but landed in a pit of excrement, Gardner is a fair minded MP who could unite the party.

    1. He could indeed – and that’s probably the best we can hope for after the calamity and distress that Sir Keir and his clique intentionally cause.

  6. I see this as nothing but the right wing wild card. they’ve been waiting to land on us after all the fucking purges lies and smears.


    As much as I admire Gardiner for his interview technique**, it seems to me it’d be more of a concession from the right (and acceptable to the BoD through Gardiner’s lfi membership, therefore meaning he’d be made a lot more malleable to their whims than he’s been) more than anything else.

    I’ve never heard him take either side on the antisemitism exaggeration, nor have I seen him criticise either keef of Corbyn which leads me to believe he’s a bit of a fence sitter on internal matters. (Not necessarily a bad point, but to me shows a slight lack of conviction)

    That said, give me Gardiner over keef every single time. He gets an ‘acceptable, but could be better’ from me. And a definite ‘YES’ over the tosser who doesn’t know his arse from YOUR elbow, nevermind his own.

    **As I’ve mentioned previously, Andy McDonald has a different technique to Gardiner;; quieter, less animated, but just as forthright and very effective at getting his point across. He’d definitely get my endorsement if he was to throw his name in the hat.

    1. I agree with Toffee, Andy McDonald would be a popular leader. He is a good socialist with working class credentials and has integrity. Barry is a nice man, but would not have so much appeal to WC voters and I do worry about his LFI membership.

      1. Between Andy McDonald and Barry Gardiner, I will vote for Andy. Only one problem, I don’t believe Andy will get 40 nominations from the PLP while Gardiner stand a better chance if all Parliamentary members of the SCG back him.
        The SCG has 33/34 votes depending on whatever Corbyn and Claudia Webbe can endorse a nomination.
        Gardiner would have his own vote, hence it is a question of finding another 4-6 MPs willing to back him, so it is possible.

      2. ellie/ Maria
        Labour MP’s have to accept it matters not a jot who is nominated, the challenge is to save the party from destruction by Red Tories

  7. A better media performer than SKS, looked exceptionally good v Sophie Ridge (but I don’t think she’s that good or that bright, Kay Burley would be a much tougher nut to crack), he could do it. SKS would have been good as his deputy. BG is far better than Rayner. A smart women with the confidence to take on BoJo the clown would win a GE. Who have we got?

  8. I would support him in a heart beat, an advantage not be too ‘lefty’.

    1. Toffee
      See what happens when you change the language, we should be framing the story not the MSM and toilet papers, go for the jugular
      Back to the day job
      Red Tories are in the wrong party and off they must fuck
      Where does your man stand on
      AS Scam
      Internal report
      If not prepared to make his position clear then back to jumping two generations and putting forward a history maker
      How did RLB get past these same questions, same old Left wing shambles

  9. The amiable Barry Gardiner would be a vast improvement over the current incumbent.

    Getting the contest will be the hard part. The PLP’s RW know Starmer’s unlikely to defend his position if a contest is triggered, likely preferring to step aside – too damned by his lies in 2020’s contest to go through leadership hustings again and face the members he’s betrayed. Probably one of the reasons they wanted a return to the electoral college system too.

    1. Andy, an excellent comment, can you imagine if Starmer was asked if he would stand by the 10 pledged he made at the last contest, and broke, he would be slaughtered.

  10. Judging by the reception Dame L Ellman received at conference, they should parachute her or Ruth Smeeth into safe labour seats, like they did in Batley and Spen, then they could win the required nominations and be our leaders, If she did not make it, that would prove the Labour party is totally anti Semitic as they have said all along. Only joking. What a nightmare that would be, but I will bet K Starmer is probably thinking along those lines.

  11. I would accept Barry Gardiner as leader, with him I would be happy to vote for labour again. I have seen him in many interviews and he comes across very well – knowledgeable, articulate, quick on his feet and forensic.

    He wouldn’t be my first choice because it is about time labour had a female leader. I mean, FFS, the tory scum have had two female leaders! I would like it to be Dawn Butler.

    1. Richard
      That was the big mistake that was made last time in my opinion. I think Rebecca Long Bailie was chosen solely because it was thought we needed a female leader and more capable people stood aside for her.
      Gender should never come into it. The best Person for the post should always be selected. Just because the Tories had 2 women leaders doesn’t mean we should ignore the talent of people like Barry Gardiner just because he is a man. This is unfair and will not lead us to success.

  12. Butler would spend her entire tenure as leader being harassed by the Murdochs and other right wing rags over THAT police stop.

    They’ve already spouted enough shite about it and a lot of it has stuck.

    Don’t think for a moment it wouldn’t be a massive distraction.Butler would just be a candidate for the Abbot treatment imo.

    Then there’s the ‘unparliamentary language’. While you and I might say: ‘good on her’ , it wouldn’t be so hard for the MSM to convince both some of the working** and all of the middle classes that it just won’t do

    **S*n reading types.

    Deputy? Perhaps. Leader? I don’t think so.

    1. Thanks for the link Jo Slee. This would weigh heavily with me. I don’t want another pro Apartheid anti Arab racist leading the party .

    2. Useful info Jo. I was very disappointed when I first discovered Gardiner was a ‘Friend of Israel’, this reinforces my concerns

  13. Stockholm Syndrome
    Why do those on the left fail to see Red Tories cannot stay in the party

    If their good enough they are old enough, leadership is just that, the first one to stand up and call out everything that is rotten in this party and country gets the job

  14. A smart streetwise bame women would act as lightning rod for Tories, MSM and toilet papers, but this time we call it out, we give the country a clear choice, hope or hate

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