Who are the main contenders for British Labour Party leadership?

Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh, Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn all line out


Andy Burnham: Current favourite in the race, but the Liverpudlian could struggle to get rid of the shadow of his service in Gordon Brown’s cabinet.

Married with three children, Burnham was born into a working-class background. The 45-year-old was educated at a local comprehensive but later went to Cambridge, before embarking on a career as a staffer to senior Labour figures. He was elected to the Commons in 2001 and was quickly promoted, becoming secretary of state for health under Brown. His term was marred by the crisis in Mid-Staffordshire Hospital, where hundreds died because of appalling care.

Burnham won much favour in Liverpool when he helped to bring about an official inquiry into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which left 96 people dead. So far, he has the most nominations from Labour MPs.

Yvette Cooper: Cooper (46) has been in the House of Commons since 1997. Highly experienced, she is, to her understandable irritation, best known by many outside Westminster for being married to Ed Balls. His defeat in the May election has probably helped Cooper’s chances of winning the leadership battle, since many in Labour were uncomfortable at the idea of a powerful husband-and-wife duopoly at the helm of the party.

She served in the cabinet between 2008 and 2010 under Gordon Brown: firstly, as chief secretary to the treasury and then as secretary of state for work and pensions.

Mary Creagh: Creagh (47) was brought up in Coventry, the daughter of Irish emigrants. Elected in 2005, she won a public profile during the horse-meat scandal, when it emerged horse-meat had been illegally used in British food products. She was subsequently moved to the shadow transport role by Ed Miliband, who later moved her again to the shadow international development post – a significant demotion in British political terms.

Creagh has been blunt about some of the challenges facing Labour, making it clear that the party has to fundamentally reform if it is to have any chance of winning power in 2020. So far, she has struggled to get the 35 nominations from MPs that are required to ensure her name is on the ballot paper.

Liz Kendall: The least known of all of the candidates, but the one who has commanded much of the early publicity with her sharply worded criticisms of Labour’s past performance.

The 44-year-old, an MP for Leicester since 2010, has been tagged by some critics as “the most Blairite” of the candidates because of her assertions that Labour has to be in the political centre-ground if it is to win back power.

She is the least experienced of those in the race. Nevertheless, she has easily secured the 35 nominations necessary to keep her in the race when nominations close next Monday.

Jeremy Corbyn: The North London MP is the most left-wing of all of the candidates, and he is struggling to get the nominations necessary to stay in the race.

However, the 66-year-old’s presence is welcomed by many in the party who disagree with his views, on the grounds he will prevent the remainder hurrying for the centre-ground in the nine weeks left in the campaign.

An opponent of the proposed EU-US trade deal, TTIP, Corbyn was one of the most vocal opponents of the Iraq war. In the 1980s he was a leading figure in campaigns to get the Birmingham Six and other Irish victims of miscarriages of justice in the UK released.