UK Labour Party leadership candidates: what you need to know

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By Charlotte Cullen
UK Labour Party leadership candidates: what you need to know

Labour members and supporters have until September 10 to chose the next leader of the UK’s centre-left party. More than three months after a devastating defeat in the general election, who will replace Ed Milliband? We outline the four candidates still in the running (pictured above, left to right).

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnhum has worked in government since 2001 as the Labour MP for Leigh. He held three cabinet positions under Gordon Brown including culture secretary, chief secretary to the Treasury and health secretary. He came fourth out of five in the 2010 Labour leadership contest.

Burnhum is a prominent opponent of privitising the NHS and has said he will to work to bring the railways back under public ownership. He has also vowed to strongly oppose the welfare reform bill, which cuts the household benefit cap to £23,000.

He would like to see reforms from within the EU to tackle immigration and supports a two year block on benefits for new EU migrants. In one speech he said, “Freedom to move is a good thing… but it’s not the same as freedom to claim.”

Burnham has said he wants the party to “speak for everyone”.

Controversies: He continues to face questions about his role as health secretary in the aftermath of the Mid Staffs hospital scandal. Critics say he should have launched a public inquiry rather than an independent one.

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper is the current shadow home secretary and previously held positions under Gordon Brown as chief secretary to the Treasury and work and pensions secretary. She is married to former shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

She has pledged to help working parents, tackle child poverty and has spoken of the need for “smarter, stronger and more effective immigration controls”. Cooper has said she would review the mansion tax and would not oppose plans to cut corporation tax from 20% to 18%.

She has called on David Cameron to freeze new appointments to the House of Lords until it has been reformed. Announcing her candidacy she said: “Our promise of hope wasn’t strong enough to drown out the Tory and UKIP voices of fear. That’s what we need to change.”

Her candidacy has been endorsed by former PM Gordon Brown.

Controversies: In her former position as housing minister she introduced ‘home information packs’, an initiative than required sellers to provide certain documents to buyers. Opponents say it stunted the market recovery and the project was scrapped by the coalition government.

Jeremy Corbyn

Currently the bookies favourite is Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran left-wing MP for Islington North. He is the anti-austerity candidate and has generated a lot of media attention, his politics have been likened to Syriza in Greece.

He has criticized the UK tax system, saying it has shifted from “from taxing corporations to taxing individuals.” He assured, “if there are tough choices, we will always protect public services and support for the most vulnerable. Instead we will ask those who have been fortunate to contribute a little more.”

Corbyn is against tougher border controls and asserts that immigration is not a drain on the economy. He has argued that children growing up in diverse communities have “a very good understanding of the rest of the world”.

He thinks support for his campaign is based on “disillusionment” with Labour’s acceptance of Tory austerity plans. His surprise emergence as the favourite has sparked concerns that it could cause a split in the party’s left and right wings.

The campaign frontrunner told The Guardian that he would issue a public apology over the Iraq war on behalf of the party, should he become leader.

Controversies: Corbyn has previously attended events with Hamas and Hezbollah supporters as well as Holocaust denier Paul Eisen. He has categorically denied he is anti-Semitic and has called the allegations “appalling, disgusting and deeply offensive.”

Liz Kendall

Shadow health minister Liz Kendall was the first candidate to announce her bid for the leadership. She was first elected to Parliament in 2010 where she sat as an MP for Leicester West, she was quickly promoted to the front bench.

She has vowed to regain public trust in Labour on the economy and has said she will protect the poor and vulnerable, including pushing for the introduction of the living wage. Kendall does not support cutting tuition fees and believes the money would be better spent on early years education, she would back more free schools.

Kendall is the candidate with the toughest view on immigration, she wants to see a restriction on benefits and housing for new migrant workers and a points-based system implemented for people coming from outside the EU.

She is regularly described as a Blairite candidate, to which she replied: “We have to move on from these labels of the past… I’m not a Blairite candidate, I’m my own candidate.”

Controversies: Some critics call her a Tory because she has accepted some Conservative policies, such as welfare cuts. She has argued it is necessary to win the trust of voters.