Norwich South MP Clive Lewis has joined the race to become the next Labour leader. Lewis, the shadow Treasury minister is the second MP to announce they are throwing their hat in the ring, joining Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry.
Jeremy Corbyn, currently the leader of the opposition, announced he would not be leading the party at the next election after Labour’s worst election defeat since the 1930s.
In his article announcing his candidacy in The Guardian, Mr Lewis wrote Corbyn had not made the party accessible enough. He said: “We don’t need foot soldiers, we need an army of activists who think critically, treat each other with respect and have a serious democratic stake in the movement. I don’t want to manage the labour movement, I want to unleash it.”
Mr Lewis believes Labour has failed to convince people in its heartlands that it has made a decisive break with the era of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, despite changed policy and personnel.
Mr Lewis praised Labour’s outgoing leader for “inspiring a new generation of members”. He said “indecisiveness” on the issue of Brexit and “disconnected policies” were behind the party’s poor election performance.
In an interview with Concrete earlier this year the Norwich South MP said being Labour leader did not appeal to him, although he added: “At the same time if you feel you’re in a position where you could make a fundamental difference and do some good – why would you be in politics and not want that to happen?”
Mr Lewis told Concrete he wasn’t sure any MP can be “a positive role model, especially with the harsh we’re making of Brexit and politics generally”.
Yet he admitted MPs can accept being viewed as role models. He said: “That is tough because you put role models on a pedestal. I don’t like being on a pedestal because the thing with pedestals is you usually fall off them.”
“I’ve watched Ed Miliband. I’ve watched Gordon Brown. I’ve watched Tony Blair. I’ve watched Jeremy. [Being Prime Minister] is a very unforgiving job. I mean if you look at Tony Blair now he’s a marmite figure.”
Although only Lewis and Thornberry have officilally joined the race a number of other MPs are expected to join them. Lisa Nandy, Sir Keir Starmer, Rebbecca Long-Bailey, Jess Phillips, Yvette Cooper and Angela Rayner are all toted to join the contest.
Shadow business secretary Rebbecca Long-Bailey is the favourite to replace Mr Corbyn. During the election she represented Labour during a TV debate and is one of Mr Corbyn’s close allies.
The bookies have put Sir Keir Starmer in second place, behind Ms Long-Bailey. Many people view the shadow Brexit secretary as a more centrist option.