Labour leadership: John Prescott leads calls to keep left-winger Jeremy Corbyn on ballot

Only three candidates currently have sufficient nominations for the election

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Indy Politics

Labour MPs are being urged to rally behind Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing challenger for the party leadership – not to get him elected but to make sure he at least gets the chance to take part in the full-blown election.

With nominations due to close on Monday, only three candidates – Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall – currently have sufficient nominations to get their names on the ballot paper.

With a little over 24 hours to go, Mr Corbyn had been nominated by 18 Labour MPs, needing a minimum of 35.

The former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott led the call to get Mr Corbyn on the ballot paper in order that his brand of left-wing socialism would not be excluded from leadership debates.

Lord Prescott also called for support for Stella Creasy, who is seeking to run for the party’s deputy leadership.

Jo Cox, one of the new Labour MPs elected last month, announced that she proposed to nominate Mr Corbyn. “While I won’t personally vote for Jeremy in the final ballot, I’m determined to nominate in a way that will ensure a broad debate and the widest possible choice for party members,” she said.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Lord Prescott argued: “I may not agree with a lot that left-winger Jeremy Corbyn says. But it’s important in this debate for the soul of the party that members get to vote on his views. That’s why I hope Labour MPs lend Corbyn their votes.

He added: “Likewise, in the deputy leadership election, I’d like to see campaigners like Stella Creasy put their case to members.”

Ms Creasy, who drew widespread praise for her campaigning on pay-day loans, had 20 nominations listed on the Labour Party website on Sunday. She has until Wednesday to find another 15. Only two candidates for the deputy leadership – Tom Watson and Caroline Flint – have more than 35 nominations.

Mr Corbyn, who was first elected in 1983, has views similar to those that were laid out in Labour’s election manifesto that year, which provoked the Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, on the right of the party, to describe it as “the longest suicide note in history”.

Andy Burnham, who is seen as the frontrunner in the contest will give a speech on Monday warning that, because most of Labour’s leaders are university graduates, they are in danger of overlooking the importance of technical education.

His challenger Yvette Cooper will argue that Labour should have a mission to eliminate child poverty.

Mr Burnham is expected to say that technical education has been allowed to become “a low prestige, second-class option”. He will warn: “If we continue with this flawed approach, we will not build the highly skilled workforce that Britain needs to build a modern economy and compete in the world.”

Ms Cooper will call for legislation requiring the Office of Budget Responsibility to assess how fiscal measures can be expected to affect child poverty, as well as outlining the case for new targets to be set for tackling the problem.