ANDREW PIERCE's Labour conference: Angela Rayner's war chest is open

ANDREW PIERCE’s Labour conference diary: Angela Rayner’s war chest is open for gold

During her successful campaign to be Labour’s deputy leader last year, Angela Rayner amassed donations of £185,000 from supporters.

They included £60,000 from three trade unions and £50,000 from media entrepreneur and Labour peer Waheed Alli – one of the few openly gay Muslim politicians in the world.

The money was channelled into a company called Angela Rayner Ltd.

Curiously though, 18 months on, while other contenders such as Brent MP Dawn Butler have since closed down their respective donations companies, Mrs Rayner’s is still trading with the latest accounts due to be published next week.

During her successful campaign to be Labour¿s deputy leader last year, Angela Rayner (pictured) amassed donations of £185,000 from supporters

During her successful campaign to be Labour’s deputy leader last year, Angela Rayner (pictured) amassed donations of £185,000 from supporters

All eyes are on the brazen deputy – whose ‘Am I bovvered?’ attitude following her widely rebuked ‘bunch of scum’ comments about senior Tories on Saturday have caused quite a stir – with whispers here at conference of renewed leadership ambitions.

By keeping her company trading, she certainly has the financial means for another tilt at the top job. 

 

I-Spy: At the alternative The World Transformed conference here in Brighton, die-hard supporters of Jeremy Corbyn gather each day to denounce Starmer’s leadership.

At a pub quiz hosted by Labour MP Zarah Sultana, while Corbynistas tucked into ‘organic oyster mushroom tacos’ and ‘gluten-free arbel almond salsa’, every mention of Tony Blair’s name was jeered. Sultana dubbed him a ‘war criminal’ against a backdrop of chants from the crowd of ‘Lock him up!’

There were questions on the Communist Manifesto and contemporary music – cries of ‘Ohhh Zarah Sultana’ to the tune of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army filled the air. Top prize? A jar of Corbyn’s home-made jam.

While second place took home a signed copy of former Unite general secretary Len McCluskey’s book Always Red. Unsigned copies are said to be even rarer.

 

Lisa: I won’t run for leader

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy, who ran unsuccessfully against Sir Keir for the leadership, says: ‘I’m desperate to have a woman lead the Labour Party.’

The obvious question, then: would she run again? ‘I don’t have any intention of ever putting myself through that again,’ she says. ‘It genuinely makes me want to get under the desk just thinking about it. 

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy (pictured), who ran unsuccessfully against Sir Keir for the leadership, says: ¿I¿m desperate to have a woman lead the Labour Party'

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy (pictured), who ran unsuccessfully against Sir Keir for the leadership, says: ‘I’m desperate to have a woman lead the Labour Party’

‘I hated the way we were pitted against one another.’ Did no one tell her that running against each other is how a leadership contest works? 

 

Speaking of book signing, as he was autographing his latest book Must Labour Always Lose?, former MP and Europe Minister Denis MacShane had one important piece of advice for the current leadership: ‘Abolish the party conference, there is no greater waste of money than this tired collection of vanities and showboating.’ MacShane never misses conference.

 

Former MP Keith Vaz, who last week was found to have engaged in a ‘hostile and harmful’ campaign of bullying against a female Commons clerk, is due to speak at a fringe event today.

Yes, that’s the same Keith Vaz who offered to buy cocaine for two male prostitutes while home affairs committee chief in 2016. Now, as Vaz’s successor in Leicester East Claudia Webbe has her own woes (charged with harassment), Vaz is said to have hopes of reclaiming his seat.

One shadow minister tells me: ‘Vaz is like the return of a bad smell. If there’s a by-election, the party leadership will choose the candidate and the chances of Vaz being it are precisely zero.’

Let’s hope they’re right.

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