We rank the Labour conference leadership candidates – who insist they aren't running

From the subtle constructive criticism of Andy Burnham to the barely-perceptible grumblings of the Labour left, we run down the chances of all the people who insist they don’t want to challenge Keir Starmer…

Andy Burnham is definitely, definitely not coveting Keir Starmer's job
Andy Burnham is definitely, definitely not coveting Keir Starmer’s job

Keir Starmer’s camp insist he’s going nowhere – insert your own joke on that one.

Yet in Brighton his potential successors are strutting their stuff for the moment, whenever it comes, he joins Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Milliband in the socialist Valhalla for fallen opposition leaders.

Keep your friends close and a closer eye on your potential rivals is smart politics.

And after an eventful few days at the seaside, Keir Starmer may need one eye open.

We’re reviewing the form of runners in an unofficial beauty race.

Sir Keir Starmer watches Arsenal V Tottenham in a pub in Brighton on Sunday with Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens


Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor

The King of the North swaggered into town making no secret of his hope to also rule England’s South, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland too. He has the aura of a man with a little power who’d like more and as popular on the fringe as well as dominating a four-way conversation on the main stage after complaining that denying him a prime time solo slot was Labour cancel culture. Needs to be an MP to run. Rochdale? Marked down half a point for failing to mask naked ambition.

Score: 4/5

Andy Burnham on day two of Labour Conference in Brighton


Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

Sadiq Khan, London Mayor

Khan’s position as face of the country’s capital and one of the world’s greatest cities earned him a prized speaking spot and jogging along the Brighton seafront symbolised the gas in his tank as he called on the Tory Government to mobilise the Army to fight petrol shortages. Urging Labour to cut the “London bashing” to win votes in the North smacked of a dig at rival Andy “Madchester” Burnham. Like Burnham, he’d also need to be re-elected an MP to run. Must pick up speed to be a serious contender.

Score: 3/5

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London ran in heavy downpours on Monday


Daily Mirror/Ian Vogler)

Lisa Nandy, Shadow Foreign Secretary

The Wigan warrior didn’t sparkle as brightly as previous conferences and her call for Britain to build bridges with nations in Europe and the rest of the world could also apply to her and the party when she finished a disappointing third behind Starmer and Rebecca Long Bailey in last year’s Labour bun fight. Disapproved of Rayner’s late night scumgate slip. Handy Nandy needs to find her authentic voice again.

Score: 3/5

Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader

Spending most of your week justifying a wine o’clock outburst against “Tory scum” at a post-watershed reception wasn’t in the script after starting the conference with a couple of much-talked about interviews in the Daily Mirror and Times. Rayner’s inspiring backstory of escaping a concrete booted start to life explains her anger at a Conservative Government plunging people like the young her deeper into poverty and despair but the street language prompted loud whispering about her suitability for the top job

Score: 3.5/5

Richard Burgon, Socialist Campaign Group secretary

Starmer changing Labour leadership rules was specifically intended to block Corbynite mini-mes like the Leeds East MP from standing never mind winning. So the current leader’s partial success, doubling the parliamentary qualification from 10% to 20% of MPs but dropping the abandonment of OMOV and return to an electoral college, was a blow to Burgon and his comrades. He and his wing on the Left were also banished to the fringe. Down if not out.

Score: 2/5

Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

Seized her moment in the spotlight as chief bean counter with an animated speech hailed by Guardian sketch writer John Crace as less wooden than past performances, an assessment that is glowing praise indeed from the chief grump(Cracey’s a Tottenham Hotspur fan). Reeves is backtracking to the fiscal prudence of Gordon Brown after the radicalism of John McDonnell and looks and sounds confident in her brief. How she does against Rishi Sunak will determine her fate.

Score: 4.5/5

Wes Streeting, Shadow Secretary for Child Poverty

The free school meals kids from a council flat in London’s Stepney earned rave reviews on the Brighton fringe with a string of electrifying appearances. Expressing radical policies reasonably with moral authority earned thunderous applause and, if this isn’t in bad taste to observe, has a new lease of life now he’s mercifully cancer-free after a nasty health scare. Opened a lot of eyes and did himself a lot of good.

Score: 4.5/5

Dark Horse

Pride comes before a fall so all the riders openly jockeying for position could be unseated and a dark horse thunder through to pip them at the post. Boris Johnson calls a General Election next year or 2023 and Keir Starmer finishes as Prime Minister, age and circumstances would unsaddle the leadership ambitions of most already galloping down the course. Starmer loses and a long-odds outsider could appear from nowhere to take the crown. Funny old game, politics.

Score: ?/5

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