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Indian-origin MP calls on Labour Party to be brave and elect her as leader


LONDON: An Indian-origin woman MP who comfortably progressed to the second round of the Labour Party's leadership race this week has called on the Opposition party to be "brave" and elect her.

Lisa Nandy ranks third in a five-way race, which is led by shadow Brexit secretary Kier Starmer followed by current leader Jeremy Corbyn loyalist Rebecca Long-Bailey.

While Starmer has raced ahead with the support of 89 party MPs and MEPs, the gap between Nandy and Long-Bailey is quite narrow at 31 and 33 respectively.

"This is the moment when we up our game and recover our ambition. So I am asking you to make the brave, not the easy choice, in this leadership contest," said Nandy on Monday, soon after the second round finalists were formally confirmed.

The 40-year-old MP, born in Manchester to a British mother and Indian father, won her Wigan seat in the north-west of England in last month's General Election, holding on to one of the key bricks in the so-called "red wall" which collapsed as Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won a landslide with the help of traditional Labour Party voters across the region.

Corbyn came under intense pressure to step down and had declared that he would not lead the party into another election, resulting in a leadership race.

The others still in the race but with relatively smaller support include backbench MP Jess Phillips and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry.

Under the Labour Party rules, the final five will now have to pass the next hurdle of gaining nominations from at least 33 constituency Labour parties or three affiliates, of which two must be trade unions, representing at least 5 percent of affiliate membership.

If they manage to get through that round, they will make the final shortlist from which party members, trade union members, members of affiliated societies and registered supporters will vote for a new leader via postal ballot.

At this stage, Starmer is the clear favorite to be on that final ballot paper but the race between Nandy and Long-Bailey is what will be the one to watch.

Jess Phillips has already declared that she would like Nandy to win if she was not successful herself, which could eventually bolster support for the Indian-origin MP within the party ranks.

Nandy, who has served as a former shadow energy secretary in Corbyn's team before stepping down after the Brexit referendum in 2016 in protest at the party's unclear stance on the UK's EU membership, is pitching herself as the candidate to win back the trust of traditional Labour voters who voted Conservative last month.

The leadership contest is set to run until April, when a new party leader will be announced at a special conference on 4 April during which Jeremy Corbyn will officially hand overcharge.

The postal ballot of members to vote on the final shortlist will run from 21 February to 2 April.

Any new members of the party have up until 21 January to sign up – with a GBP 25 registration fee – in order to be allowed a vote in the postal ballot.