The candidates are hearing from voters who abandoned Labour at the last election. One such tells them the next leader needs to move the party towards the centre and cites Starmer as the candidate most likely to do so.
Another voter says antisemitism was the greatest factor in his view and asks for a commitment from the candidates to deal with it. Nandy calls it “existential”. Starmer says any antisemite should not be in the party, adding he would make it a personal responsibility. Long-Bailey says Labour has not dealt with antisemitism properly and must “rebuild trust by educating our membership on this issue”.
The candidates are facing quick-fire questions before the final ad break.
Would they decriminalise cannabis?
- Long-Bailey: No
- Starmer: No
- Nandy: No
Would they vote to keep or discard the monarchy in a referendum?
- Nandy: Scrap it
- Starmer: Keep it, but downsize
- Long-Bailey: Wouldn’t vote to abolish the monarchy
Would they keep Labour’s free broadband policy?
- Starmer: Refuses to give a definite answer, saying “yes” or “no” is too simplistic
- Long-Bailey: Supports the principle but believes it needs to be better explained to voters
- Nandy: Calls it an important policy but says she’d start with buses
Who’s the greatest Labour leader of the last 50 years?
- Long-Bailey: Lauds Clement Attlee, whose leadership was not within the last half-century and then declines to name another whose does
- Starmer: Harold Wilson
- Nandy: Says she hopes the greatest is about to be elected and then cites the “greatest Labour leader that never was – Barbara Castle”.
The candidates ask how their economic policies would differ from the last manifesto and what the party would do to tackle inequality.
Starmer says the party was right to talk about solidarity with people on lower incomes but that it didn’t talk enough about opportunity for people. He says the UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and shouldn’t have the levels of inequality – including regional inequality – it currently sees.
Nandy says the country needs proper public services and a plan to pay for them. She repeats previous comments about targeting assets, saying the party needs to look at wealth taxes alongside income taxes. And she says it “costs more to be poor”, citing things such as ATM costs in poorer areas.
Long-Bailey says she recently met someone from the north-west of England who had got a job he was very pleased with but said it depressed her because it’s not true of many people in Labour areas. She cites her plans for industrial strategy and improvements in education – including adult education.
While the programme goes to an ad break, here’s a comment from Labour on the resignation of the PM’s adviser, Andrew Sabisky. Ian Lavery, the party chair, has said:
It’s right that Andrew Sabisky is no longer working in government. He should never have been appointed in the first place.
After No 10 publicly stood by him today, Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer about how this appointment was made and whether he agrees with his vile views.
The candidates are asked if trans rights pledges risk alienating female voters. The candidates have faced scrutiny over this issue.
Nandy explained her support for trans women being held in prisons designated for females, saying she backed that – but not holding people who are risk to the safety of women in such areas. She says she does not want the debate to become a “zero-sum game”.
Long-Bailey calls on people to recognise the “dehumanising” process many trans people face in transitioning. Both Long-Bailey and Nandy have signed a pledge calling several organisations “trans-exclusionist hate groups”.
Echoing his comments in the last TV debate, Starmer says “trans rights are human rights” and points out he signed a separate pledge he felt more accurately reflected his position.
He says part of the problem with the debate on this issue is that it has been used as a “political football” and declines to be drawn further.
An audience member, Tamika Smith, asks about the death of Caroline Flack: “What does it say about modern Britain?”
Starmer says social media sites have to take more responsibility for what is put on their platforms and mainstream media outlets need to stop amplifying the “yards of abuse” that can go on there.
He adds that it is not helpful to attribute a single cause to the tragedy – he does not know and he does not want to pretend to know. There are always many causes and Flack’s family will not want people to “pontificate” on television about her death. He suggests people display some human empathy.
Nandy agrees, saying there is an unkindness in public life. She refers to a suicide case in her own constituency in which there had been significant bullying. She implores anyone suffering to seek help.
Long-Bailey, similarly, does not want to focus on Flack’s death in particular. In general terms, she agrees with Starmer’s points about social media and cals on the government to take more enforcement action. She adds: “It costs nothing to be kind and that costs nothing and it comes from leadership from government.”
Long-Bailey is asked to elaborate on which of Labour’s 2019 policies she would drop for the next election and she tells the audience she believed the issue was more about presentation.
Asked by an audience member if Labour will simply “try Corbynism again”, Long-Bailey says there were numerous reasons people abandoned Labour – including media attacks on the leadership. “But, ultimately, there was Brexit,” she says.
Asked what elements of Corbynism she would ditch, Long-Bailey says the policies were good but the party failed to communicate them.
Starmer says Labour has lost four elections in a row and needs to come up with the answers. He says the leadership of the party, Brexit, the “manifesto overload” and antisemitism all came up on the doorstep. But none of those on its own explains it, he adds.
Asked what was wrong with Corbyn’s leadership, Starmer says it was partly press vilification and that the former leader set up Labour as an anti-austerity party, among other things.
Nandy says the party either gets the move from Corbyn’s leadership right or it dies, adding that she believes many voters will give Labour only one more chance. She lays the blame at the door of the leadership, saying voters did not believe Corbyn was “for” them.
Nandy adds that deindustrialisation of core Labour areas and an orthodoxy that insisted overall progress as a result of the current global economic system was more important than the prosperity and concerns of individual communities that did not fee they had benefited to the same degree.
As the debate opens, the candidates hear from former Labour voters, as well as those who will vote for the next leader.
They are told there was a lack of credibility in Labour’s manifesto and that Brexit was one of the factors that drove people away; including one emotional Leave voter who said she privately apologised to her father as she voted Tory at the last election.
You can read more details on the departure of the controversial Downing Street adviser here:
This blog will be focusing more on the Labour leadership debate, which is due to start now.
Prime minister’s adviser departs Downing Street
Andrew Sabisky has stepped down as an adviser to the prime minister amid intense scrutiny over his views on eugenics and other issues.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman had earlier refused to say whether or not the prime minister agreed black people had lower IQs on average or that benefit claimants should be encouraged to have fewer children than people in work – all among the views expressed by Sabisky.
Labour leadership candidates prepare for TV debate
The three remaining Labour leadership hopefuls – Lisa Nandy, Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey – face each other in another televised debate this evening.
It follows the news on Friday evening that Emily Thornberry had not made it on to the ballot paper. You can read a bit more about that here:
Since then, Starmer has been forced to defend Labour’s Brexit policy amid claims it was the reason for the party’s general election defeat.
And Long-Bailey and Nandy have come under fire over their decision to sign a pledge drawn up by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights group calling several organisations “trans-exclusionist hate groups”.
The Channel 4 debate airs at 8pm and will last about an hour. We’ll bring you live coverage right here.