Corbyn v the rest: the four-way race to lead UK's Labour

10th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

From the leftist favourite Jeremy Corbyn to the centrist Liz Kendall, four candidates are vying to lead Britain's main opposition Labour Party.

Corbyn's improbable rise has overshadowed two early favourites, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, although both have performed well in television debates.

As voting closes, here are some essential details about the four ahead of the announcement of the winner at a special party conference on Saturday:

-- JEREMY CORBYN: The 66-year-old bearded socialist has championed human rights and policies to help the poor, often voting against his party's leadership in a parliamentary career dating back to 1983.

The soft-spoken vegetarian was one of the founders of the Stop the War coalition that campaigned against the Iraq invasion in 2003 and wants to scrap Britain's nuclear deterrent.

He is strongly opposed to austerity and his campaign, which has excited many young volunteers as well as leftist stalwarts, has drawn parallels with the rise of left-wing parties such as Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.

Corbyn has never held any major office and worked for trade unions before being elected to parliament.

He scored 53 percent support in the last opinion poll by YouGov.

-- ANDY BURNHAM: The 45-year-old Labour spokesman on health, Burnham was elected to parliament in 2001 and has kept a high profile by challenging the government over its stewardship of the state-run National Health Service.

His Liverpool background could play well with those concerned that the party has neglected its northern heartland and become too London-orientated, although he came fourth in the party's 2010 leadership contest.

A former health and culture minister under Gordon Brown, he has more government experience than most of his rivals -- but that could count against him if party members decide to break with the past.

A keen and highly competitive footballer, he used to play for a team called "Demon Eyes" made up of senior Labour figures.

Burnham attracted 21 percent support in the YouGov poll.

-- YVETTE COOPER: Cooper is one half of what was Labour's most high-profile power couple. Her husband Ed Balls, the previous shadow finance spokesman, lost his parliamentary seat in May's general election in a shock defeat.

She served as a minister under Gordon Brown and has been the Labour party's shadow interior minister since 2011.

The 46-year-old frequently locked horns with Home Secretary Theresa May over immigration during the last parliament, with some observers predicting the battles could one day be replayed with both women as leaders of their parties.

She drew 18 percent support in the YouGov poll.

-- LIZ KENDALL: Kendall was appointed a junior health spokeswoman on becoming became an MP in 2010.

The 44-year-old is seen as a supporter of the policies of former Labour prime minister Tony Blair, having argued for reform of public services.

She garnered only eight percent in the YouGov poll.

© 2015 AFP

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