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Midlands Labour groups back Starmer for leader

As the deadline for local Labour activists to nominate a new leader passed on Friday night, the Midlands clearly backed Sir Keir Starmer.

But a close look at the nominations suggests that in the "red wall" battleground which ultimately lost Labour the 2019 election, there is less confidence that he is the man to win back traditional Labour voters.

Starmer won the endorsement of 57% of local Labour parties across the Midlands. His nearest rival was Rebecca Long-Bailey - the candidate seen as being closest to Jeremy Corbyn - who picked up 23% of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) in the region.

Lisa Nandy won the vote in 18% of Midlands CLPs, and Emily Thornberry (who has now dropped out of the race) only won the backing of local parties in Rushcliffe and Rugby.

Midlands CLP verdicts on who should become deputy-leader were even more emphatic. 74% of local parties in the region backed Angela Rayner, with Dawn Butler, Richard Burgon and Rosena Allin-Khan trailing.

Party bosses will be looking at the result in the Midlands closely. Thousands of formerly loyal Labour voters here switched to the Conservatives in December. Midlands activists have first-hand experience of talking to those lost voters on the doorstep, and may have a better idea of how to win them back.

So at first sight, this looks like a vote of confidence in Keir Starmer as the man to do it. But among activists at the centre of the storm in 2019 - the famous red wall constituencies - he hasn't performed well.

Credit: PA

Of the high profile Labour Midlands casualties at the General Election, Starmer only won support in Tom Watson's old seat of West Bromwich East and in Derby North.

Ashfield, Bolsover, Bassetlaw, Stoke-on-Trent North, Wolverhampton North East and Birmingham Northfield all backed Lisa Nandy.

West Brom West and Wolverhampton South West went for Rebecca Long-Bailey.

People voting at these meetings are loyal Labour activists. Thousands more members and supporters will get to vote in the main ballot in April, so the final results could be different. But despite his lukewarm reception among local Labour Parties in the Midlands "Red Wall", Keir Starmer is clearly extremely popular elsewhere in the region and in the country.

At this stage, the leadership appears his to lose.

  • HOW LOCAL LABOUR PARTIES VOTES;

WEST MIDLANDS:

  • Starmer - 36
  • Long-Bailey - 11
  • Nandy - 8
  • Thornberry - 1

EAST MIDLANDS:

  • Starmer - 21
  • Long-Bailey - 12
  • Nandy - 10
  • Thornberry - 1