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Who Will Replace the Three UK Political Party Leaders Who Resigned Today?

A look at the candidates who could replace Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, and Nigel Farage.

by Michael Segalov
May 8 2015, 3:30pm

Nick Clegg, no longer leader of the Lib Dems. Photo via the Lib Dems.

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

As David Cameron heads, really bloody excitedly, to Downing Street, the rest of the political establishment is in turmoil. While Nicola Sturgeon looks like rebuilding Hadrian's Wall, three of the UK's major party leaders have jumped ship. First to go was Nick Clegg, followed swiftly by Nigel Farage, and Ed Miliband the last to throw in the towel, only for his right-hand woman, Harriet Harman, to resign as deputy shortly after.

Many questions about the future of British politics are resounding today. Like where to emigrate to, or whether Russia Today will hire George Galloway as creative director. But another major question is who will be next to lead the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and UKIP? Miliband, Clegg, Farage—all undeniably tough acts to follow. Here are some of the contenders:

LABOUR

The Labour party have fucked it right up. After five years of austerity basically goading people to hate the Tories, they've managed to lose seats since 2010.

Taking "absolute responsibility for the result," Ed Miliband has called it a day as Labour Party leader. Just yesterday he was sitting on the Labour Battle Bus planning new tiling for the Prime Ministerial en suite, and now he'll just have to redecorate one of his kitchens.

Not wanting to be left out of the Resignation Game, Harriet Harman will step down as Deputy Leader when Miliband's successor is found.

New rules in the party mean any future leader will be elected under a one-member, one-vote system, which is going to reduce the power of trade unions in the vote compared to last time.

As is always the way with Labour, what will follow is a battle between the left and right—those who think it went to shit because the party hasn't been chasing UKIP enough to keep up with their anti-immigrant rhetoric, and those on the left who are 100 percent certain that a return to the policies of Michael Foot would revitalize the party.

Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor of Ed Balls fame, was a likely contender, but also a high-profile casualty of last night's shoddy performance; he's now lost his seat.

Chuka Umunna is currently the bookies favorite. Having been the Shadow Business Secretary since 2011, he would be the first black leader of the Labour Party. Just earlier this morning, Umunna was telling everyone he was "absolutely" behind Ed Miliband as leader, but now he's being primed to take the top job. A fan of Blue Labour, Umunna reckons that working-class voters will return to voting Labour through socially conservative policies on issues such as immigration and the EU.

Speaking back in 2011, Umunna said, "We cannot presume the pain of government cuts will deliver victory in 2015," and that Blue Labour "provides the seeds of national renewal." The Daily Mail have called him "the black Blair," and back in 2013 a computer at his own law firm was used to edit his Wikipedia page, to suggest that he "may end up as the UK's Barack Obama."

WATCH: 'The New Wave: Meet the Young Politicians Aiming to Shake Up Westminster with the Outsider Parties':

Andy Burnham, shadow Health Secretary, is also looking likely to throw his hat in to the ring, despite only coming fourth out of five in the last leadership race, losing out to Miliband with just 8.68 percent of the vote. This time round he's being pushed as the favorite. A member of the party since the age of 14, Burnham served in the treasury under Gordon Brown and spent a year working with the Football Task Force to reform the game. Substantially to the left of Umunna, Burnham will likely garner the support of the unions, and with the party in desperate need to take back ground from the SNP north of the border, pushing a progressive agenda.

The only woman tipped to take the top job on the Labour side is Yvette Cooper, shadow Home Secretary, and MP for Pontefract and Castleford. Married to Ed Balls, she'd not been highly tipped to contest the leadership until now. Elected in 1997 as one of "Blaire's babes" (yeah, I puked too), she'd be the first woman leader, and would represent a return to the more "traditional" ground of New Labour, complete with expenses scandals and all.

THE LIB DEMS

The Liberal Democrats look like they'll have just eight MPs this time around, down from 57 in 2010. Looking as broken as his promises, Clegg appeared in his resignation speech as to have grown a backbone overnight, calling the results "cruel and punishing" for the Lib Dems. Perhaps the real question here is, who would actually want to become the new captain of a ship that's lying on the seabed?

Having spent the last five years in Government, there are a fair few highflying Liberals who could take the reigns.

Danny Alexander, ex-Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Or what about Vince Cable, the lovable, roguish granddad of British politics? (I know he raised tuition fees, but he's just so fucking cute). Then you've got former Employment Minister Jo Swinson, Ex-Party Leader Charles Kennedy, or Simon Hughes, an MP with 30 years' experience?

Oh no wait, they've all lost their seats.

The first real contender then, is Norman Lamb, a health minister in the coalition government and MP for North Norfolk. He cut his teeth in politics under now disgraced Labour Peer and then MP Greville Janner, a.k.a. Baron Janner of Braunstone.

Having rebelled just twice under the coalition government, both times on seemingly unimportant pieces of legislation, Lamb would represent continuity within the party, the "look left, look right" vibe that got them into Government, but which has now led to an unmitigated clusterfuck for the Liberals.

The only other likely challenger is Tim Farron, former party president, who has kept himself well clear from the coalition Government. According to Lib Dem sources, he's pretty popular among the grass-roots of the party, and sitting noticeably to the left of the party, should he take over it'll be an end to the Clegg agenda that has characterized the party for the last five years.

Under the current Lib Dem rules, if a candidate wants to stand for leader they'll need support from 10 percent of the Lib Dem MPs; which now stands at... less than one.

UKIP

UKIP politicians have a habit of saying things they later regret. Farage's promise, made back in March, that it would be "curtains" for him should he not make it to Westminster in 2015, has seemingly backfired.

Speaking from cliffs along the south coast, he told cameras this morning that for the mean time, he'll be quitting, but he would consider running for the job again in September. So, it looks as if the favuorite contender to be the next Nigel Farage is, well, Nigel Farage.

But, if he decides not to run, or if the Kippers fancy a shake up, then who would replace him?

One possibility is Douglas Carswell, Tory defector and now the party's only MP with a seat in parliament, after a night of voting that materialized little for the party. On the liberal wing of UKIP (if there is such a thing), Carswell seems to be more motivated by political reform than other issues, unexpectedly speaking up for him comrades in the Green Party when making his acceptance speech in Clacton last night. Instead of banging on about immigration, he used it as a chance to call for a proportional voting system. He's also a big fan of Hello Kitty World, apparently.

Next up and current favorite is Suzanne Evans, an ex-Tory Councillor who left the Conservatives with national attention when Cameron's aides apparently called party activists "mad swivel-eyes loons." Evans took on the job as policy chief in producing the 2015 manifesto, and caused uproar last month for blaming the housing crisis on—wait for it, immigration—despite owning "two and a third" homes herself. Having worked as a broadcaster and journalist, she's media savvy, and is popular within the party.

Deputy Party Leader Paul Nuttall MEP had made clear back in January that he reckons he could lead the party. Economically to the right of the party faithful, he's argued, "the very existence of the NHS stifles competition." Not just outspoken on the NHS, if Nuttall had his way we'd bring back the death penalty for those guilty of murdering children and serial killers, and abortion would be limited to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Where he does follow the UKIP trend however is his attendance at the European Parliament, coming in at 736th of the 756 MEP's.

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