Labour leadership: Rebecca Long-Bailey vows to abolish House of Lords
Favoured candidate of party left says she would ‘go to war with the political establishment’ as leader
The favoured candidate of the Labour left in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn also indicated that she would be ready to authorise a second independence referendum in Scotland.
Ms Long-Bailey is one of four contenders, alongside Sir Keir Starmer, Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy, to have secured the necessary 22 nominations from MPs and MEPs to join the race ahead of Monday’s deadline.
Launching her campaign last week, she vowed to “go to war” with the establishment, and she today confirmed that this would mean an end to the unelected upper house of parliament.
She declined to say what replacement she envisages for the second chamber, but indicated she wants a “democratically accountable” forum for experts who are not party political appointees.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Ms Long-Bailey said: “I do want to abolish the House of Lords and we’ll be rolling out as my campaign progresses how we intend to to really shake up that constitutional package.
“MPs like myself are fed up of the Westminster bubble and we’re fed up of our communities feeling like decisions about their lives are made in Westminster consistently. We’ve got to shift power and wealth into our communities and that needs to be done in a democratic and structured way.”
Asked what she would put in place of the Lords, she said: “There would need to be checks and balances in place but to have a set of completely unelected people doing that I don’t think is right, and I think many people within our communities would not think that was right.
“We need to have people who are able, experts, people who feel that they’re democratically accountable to the communities that they represent, not people who were appointed by parties.”
Ms Long-Bailey insisted she was “not at all” the “continuity Corbyn” candidate in the election, despite previously rating his leadership “10 out of 10” and highlighting her role in writing his policies.
“It annoys me when people say that and unfortunately as a woman, it annoys me even more,” she said. “I’m a person in my own right.”
She made clear that she did not agree with Mr Corbyn that Labour “won the arguments” in last month’s election, telling Sophy Ridge: “We didn’t win the argument – if we’d won the argument we would have won the general election ... We just weren’t trusted.”
And she added: “I would describe myself as a socialist and I supported Jeremy from the start because he believed in many of the same things that I did.
“What we need to do now is stop labelling ourselves as Corbynites, as socialists or whatever. We are in the Labour Party, we are all socialists within the Labour Party, we need to unite.”
Ms Long-Bailey said she would not attempt to “inhibit” a Scottish independence referendum if it was demanded by the people of Scotland, but would not support the break-up of the UK.
“I wouldn’t be in favour of it and it’s not something that I’ll be pushing for arguing for – I’ll be arguing to keep the union,” she said. “But ultimately, people must feel that they have a democratic voice.”
Ms Long-Bailey promised to sign up to a list of pledges drawn up by the Board of Deputies of British Jews on driving antisemitism out of the Labour Party, and to implement any recommendations from the Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into the party.
She said she had been “quite vocal” behind the scenes about her concerns about Labour’s process for dealing with allegations of antisemitism, and said that Mr Corbyn bore “personal responsibility” for the failure to deal with it.
“I spoke to Jeremy about it, I spoke to the various members of the team, I spoke to various members of the NEC [National Executive Committee] about that,” said Ms Long-Bailey.
“There was nobody that I came across that didn’t want to tackle this problem, but what we didn’t do was help ourselves to tackle it. We didn’t act quickly enough, the messages that we were sending out to the community were confusing.”