Labour’s leadership election is not going according to plan for the allies of Jeremy Corbyn. Given their iron grip on the party machine, we might have expected their favoured successor, Rebecca Long Bailey, to be so far out in front by now that no one could catch her.

Evidently, this is not the case. Long Bailey’s low profile since the general election, and doubts on the hard left about whether she is the right person to inherit Corbyn’s legacy, have helped Keir Starmer mount a strong challenge. As things stand, the contest now appears his to lose.

It’s still early days; at this point in 2015, Andy Burnham was the frontrunner. I expect a close-run race between Long Bailey and Starmer. Two more candidates, Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy, have also cleared the first hurdle – nominations from 22 Labour MPs. Two others, Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis, are struggling to do so by Monday’s deadline.

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