Labour’s recent defeat in the winter election – which saw the party lose 60 seats – was hard to stomach. Was it Brexit wot dun it? Did everyone hate Corbyn too much? Has the left forgotten its Northern voters? While the party argues about what exactly it was that fucked it, a new selection of politicians has stepped forward to replace a divisive leader and bring the party to power.
Each of the six potential candidates offers a different kind of leadership, aiming to distance themselves from appearing anything like Corbyn himself, worried that in doing so, they won't be distinct enough to avoid another defeat. Indeed, Corbyn has even said he won’t endorse a candidate, probably for fear of giving a poison kiss to his chosen successor.
Now, six candidates have come forward: Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Clive Lewis, Emily Thornberry, and Keir Starmer. Each will be lobbying to win at least 22 votes from fellow Labour MPs by Monday afternoon, in order to be nominated for the next stage of the leadership contest.
While there has been much discussion over which approach (and person) is right to take Labour forward, perhaps we need new ideas when it comes to analysing the leadership candidates, too. Weirdly (and maybe it’s just early days here!), no one seems to have mentioned the propensity of any of the potential leaders to own allotments. Do they love allotments, like Corbyn? Would it be right to continue with another leader who likes allotments? Would they – if necessary – nuke an allotment?
These are all fundamental questions, and surely critical in Labour's current period of reflection. So, we rated each of the leadership candidates by how likely the are to own an allotment.
Rebecca Long-Bailey – the shadow business secretary and an ex-union employee – is considered by some as the continuity candidate to Corbyn. Considering that hundreds of thousands of people joined the Labour party to vote for Corbyn in the leadership election, it makes sense a Corbyn-esque candidate could become the next leader, though her popularity has allegedly been waining.
Fundamentally, Long-Bailey would be happy to have an allotment, but crucially, she doesn’t want people to fixate on it. “Yes, I would consider having an allotment,” she would say, “but what’s important is that we get Labour voters to trust us, rather than focus on how the gourds are doing on my south-facing patch.”
As someone instrumental in creating Labour’s Green New deal, and a politician who backs big public spending, she feels allotments should be “available to all.”
Likelihood to own an allotment: 9/10
Hates allotments. Did a big magazine feature in the Sunday Times about how ridiculous allotments are, and how her party has spent too long focusing on allotments during the campaign trail.
Phillips, who represents constituents in Birmingham, is a centre-left figure in the race, and was a longtime skeptic of Jeremy Corbyn, even during the most recent election. She once told Diane Abbott, “Fuck allotments.”
Likelihood to own an allotment: 3/10
Sir Keir Starmer
Although from average means, ex-lawyer SIR Keir Starmer couldn’t tell you how much a year rent on an allotment costs. In his home in central London, though, there’s not much need for one. “Why not just grow veg from the comfort of your own abode,” he might say. “Or there’s my country place – which is more suitable.”
As the shadow Brexit secretary, who was crucial in moving Labour’s position towards a second referendum during the election, he has often lauded the quality of international veg. “An Italian piccolo tomato beats homegrown swede any day.”
Likelihood to own an allotment: 5/10
Lisa Nandy, like Jess Phillips, believes that the party can’t continue with the same Corbynite politics if it wants to win a future election. “Change or die,” is the mentality of Nandy, who no one’s really heard of – though is doing surprisingly well garnering votes from MPs at the hustings, compared to the candidates like Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis.
Nandy, the MP for Wigan, will not be using an allotment. However, as a figure who criticised Labour’s remain stance and said that a softer Brexit was the only way for Labour to win the election, she is happy to eat British veg like turnips – allotment grown or not.
Likelihood to own an allotment: 4/10
Emily Thornberry, the MP for Islington South and Finsbury, is struggling at the initial stages of the competition. She is both too Corbyn for the Corbyn-skeptics, and not Corbyn-enough for his fans. Thornberry is a big remainer, and was crucial in pushing for a second referendum to be part of the party’s manifesto. She has been largely supportive of Corbyn, but like most candidates, has distanced herself from the leader.
As she lives in a neighbouring constituency, she is however known to sometimes use space on Corbyn’s allotment.
Likelihood to own an allotment: 7/10
Ex-military Clive Lewis is strongly anti-interventionist, pro-Remain, and another MP who will struggle to garner the 22 votes from fellow MPs to get through the first round of the leadership contest. Originally a big Corbynite, Lewis has distanced himself over the last two years, quitting the cabinet after the Labour Party’s decision to whip votes for triggering Article 50. He is politically quite close to Corbyn, however.
Clive – let me tell you – Clive would love an allotment. After time in Afghanistan, the mental space and “zen” that an allotment allows is right up his street. “Sometimes it’s good to get a bit of *me* time, you know?” says Lewis. Maybe.
Likelihood to own an allotment: 8/10