As Theresa May famously said in one of her first ever PMQs as prime minsiter, when it came to be electing female leaders, it was two-nil to the Conservatives. The closest Labour has ever been to having a female leader was when Harriet Harman acted as leader on two occasions. For progressive Labour, it must be a blow to have been beaten by the Tories on this.
Labour’s left currently has such a tight grip on the party, Jeremy Corbyn will go when he wants to go. For now at least, there is no likelihood of a change in leader, especially if Corbyn goes on to become prime minister.
Nonetheless, the top two favourites to succeed Corbyn are female.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, who recently appeared on Have I Got News For You, is currently the betting markets’ second favourite to replace Corybn, according to Oddschecker (as of 21st December). The former care-worker and UNISON representative has made a staggeringly quick rise in the party, having only first been elected at the 2015 general election. She’s young and relatively politically inexperienced, but in the new Labour order, she is certainly in a strong position to rise further up the party.
The favourite to replace Corbyn however, is Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow First Secretary Emily Thornberry, according to Oddschecker. The 2014 incident where she sent the now infamous white van tweet set her political career back when she was forced to resign from Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet. Although the incident is still remembered, Thornberry has managed to remake herself, and while she is not the traditional Corbynista, she has made herself a strong ally of Jeremy Corbyn.
The next favourites to replace Corbyn are Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, backbench MP Lisa Nandy, Chuka Umunna, Dan Jarvis and Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey respectively.
In the current paradigm, Jeremy Corbyn will remain Labour leader for as long as he wants it, but it is worth remembering that he is 68. Another election loss, could spell an end to his leadership – but not his ideas – while an election win will kick a contest into the long grass.
Jeremy Corbyn will be around for a while, but I’d say it’s more likely than not that Labour’s next leader will be a woman.
It is long overdue.