Labour leadership: Lisa Nandy would abolish monarchy despite hoping to see ‘Queen Meghan’

Rebecca Long-Bailey calls for new inquiry into press ethics in wake of Caroline Flack death

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 17 February 2020 22:09
Lisa Nandy says she would scrap the monarchy

Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy has said she would vote to scrap the monarchy.

Ms Nandy said that the issue would not be a priority for Labour under her leadership, but that as a democrat she would not vote to keep the royal family – even though she would “quite like to see Queen Meghan at some point”.

Left-wing contender Rebecca Long-Bailey said she would not abolish the monarchy, while frontrunner Keir Starmer said he would “downsize” the royals but not get rid of them.

The exchange came in a live TV debate on Channel 4 just days after the field to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader was slimmed down to three on the elimination of Emily Thornberry on Friday.

Ms Long-Bailey used the debate to issue a call for the government to stage a new investigation into the ethics and morality of the media in the wake of the death of Caroline Flack.

And none of the three contenders named either Mr Corbyn or Tony Blair when asked who was their favourite Labour leader of the past 50 years.

Ms Long-Bailey initially chose Clement Attlee – who left the leadership 75 years ago – before naming her predecessor as Salford MP Frank Allaun as her favourite MP. Starmer plumped for Harold Wilson as the best Labour leader, while Nandy said “I’m hoping we are about to elect her.”

Asked in a series of quickfire questions how she would vote in a referendum on keeping the monarchy, Ms Nandy replied: “I’m a democrat, so I would vote to scrap it, but actually this is not the priority as a country.”

Sir Keir said: “I wouldn’t. I think I’d downsize it.” And Long-Bailey said: “I wouldn’t vote to abolish the monarchy.”

Following the death of Love Island host Flack, who had been the subject of intense scrutiny online and in the media, Ms Long-Bailey said that ministers should revive the second phase of the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, which was axed by then culture secretary Matt Hancock in 2018.

She said: “There’s a huge issue to look at in terms of online bullying and social media companies and the way that the press – certainly the tabloids – respond to that and amplify that.

“I think we need to ensure that the government puts pressure on the social media companies to tackle online abuse on their platforms.

“But I also think that the government needs to press ahead with the second stage of the Leveson inquiry about examining the role of the media within society – a free press but also upholding ethical and moral principles.”

Sir Keir said that Flack’s death “shines a torch into the soul of our nation” and highlights the impact of abuse on social media.

He said tech companies need to take more responsibility for material published on their platforms.

“There’s yards of abuse on social media and it’s about time that those providing the platform take responsibility for what is on it,” said Starmer.

Keir Starmer

“This has been going on a long time. There’s abuse and hatred and it’s not just Caroline’s case. There are youngsters taking their lives because of what they see on social media.

“When I was director of public prosecutions, I tried to persuade social media to take responsibility and their response was, ‘If it isn’t terrorism, we are not going to’. That’s got to change now.”

Ms Nandy said it had become “difficult to be in public life at the moment, because there is an unkindness that’s crept into our public debate that I think is detrimental to all of us”.

Rebecca Long Bailey calls for Leveson 2 inquiry into press ethics in wake of Caroline Flack death

She said there should be “much greater support” made available to people suffering online abuse.

And she added: “I think we need to start challenging the public discourse in this country.

“It’s not just that it is abusive and unkind, it is also that we have found multiple ways in the last decade to divide ourselves from each other. We’re a better country than that. Let’s pull together and move forward together.”

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