Labour leadership: Lisa Nandy vows to maintain Corbyn’s pledge to abolish tuition fees

Leadership contender claims Labour’s 2019 policies were ‘reasonably popular’ but party failed to articulate them to public

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 15 January 2020 21:28 GMT
Lisa Nandy vows to maintain Labour's pledge to abolish university tuition fees

Lisa Nandy has said she would maintain key pledges from Labour’s election manifesto, including the abolition of university of tuition fees and the renationalisation of Royal Mail.

In her first major television interview, the Wigan MP, one of five contenders vying to replace Jeremy Corbyn, also said she opposed a second Scottish independence vote, insisting voters have had “enough of referendums”.

Her remarks came as a poll of party members by the LabourList website and Survation suggested Rebecca Long-Bailey, the left-wing shadow business secretary, is narrowly ahead in the contest.

Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Neil show, Ms Nandy insisted that most of the policies in Labour’s 2019 election manifesto “were reasonably popular”, but that the party failed to properly articulate them during the campaign.

“For example, there was a pledge on free broadband. It wasn’t very well explained, but it was a very good policy,” she said.

Pressed on whether she would keep Mr Corbyn’s proposal to abolish tuition fees, she replied: “Yes, I would, but in the language of priorities, where I would start is restoring education maintenance allowance and university grants.”

Ms Nandy added she would renew the Trident nuclear deterrent system – something the party’s election document pledged – if it was coupled with a “strong commitment to nuclear disarmament”.

Questioned on the contentious issue of a second referendum in Scotland, she said: “I think it suits the Scottish nationalists to keep this argument going about independence.

“I don’t support another referendum on independence, I think I’ve been very consistent about that – whether it’s Brexit or the Scottish independence referendum.

“Frankly, to be honest, I think this country has had enough of referendums. The job now is to pull together as a nation.”

Just moments before Ms Nandy’s appearance, however, results of a poll suggested the backbencher has a long way to go to convince Labour members she is the individual to succeed Mr Corbyn in three months’ time.

Results of the LabourList survey said Ms Long-Bailey would win 42 per cent of first preference votes – while Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, would be in second place with 37 per cent.

Backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy would receive nine and seven per cent of first preference votes respectively and the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, would secure just one per cent.

It added that Sir Keir would pick up the majority of second preferences from members, but it would not be sufficient to eliminate Ms Long-Bailey’s lead, with a final result of 51 to 49 per cent for the shadow business secretary. The survey of 3,835 members between 8 and 13 January, consisted of LabourList readers, which the website said was weighted by Survation to reflect the membership.

But given those polled are drawn from LabourList’s database of readers, who identify as members and are likely to be more engaged than the average party member, it may not be representative of the party’s entire membership.

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