During the election campaign, Rebecca Long Bailey laughed off the notion that Labour’s plans to offer free fibre internet to every household in Britain amounted to ‘broadband communism’.
The Shadow Business Secretary was one of the noisiest proponents of Labour’s over-generous freebie, which was to have cost the State a supposed £20 billion (though BT claimed the figure would be closer to £100 billion).
‘It’s got nothing to do with communism,’ the spiky 40-year-old insisted.
Well, perhaps. But few were surprised yesterday when it was revealed this arch Corbynista had reportedly been anointed the ‘chosen one’ of hard-Left union boss Len McCluskey, and the favourite to replace Jeremy Corbyn, 70, when he steps down next year.
Oozing self-confidence, Long Bailey rarely resists an opportunity to appear on TV or radio. Though voters disagreed, she insisted Labour’s election policies were ‘fantastic’ – even if she sometimes struggled to explain them.
Oozing self-confidence, Long Bailey (pictured with Jeremy Corbyn) rarely resists an opportunity to appear on TV or radio
A string of embarrassingly robotic interviews – including one with the BBC’s rottweiler Andrew Neil who asked her the same question ten times after she failed to answer – have landed her with the nickname ‘Rebecca Wrong Daily’.
Some Labour figures fear she will struggle to match Boris Johnson’s intelligence. One party source tells me: ‘Her intellect burns with all the brightness of a standby light on a radio alarm clock.’
Whatever her supposed failings, she rose to be Shadow Business Secretary in 2017. If she becomes Labour’s first elected woman leader she will be the most inexperienced Leader of the Opposition in modern history.
Long Bailey’s supporters like to remind people that Tony Blair was only 41 when he became Labour leader in 1994, but he had been an MP for 11 years, while she entered Parliament only four years ago.
She has said: ‘I had a turbulent relationship with Labour under Blair. There was a lot I didn’t agree with which put me off joining.’
Music to the ears of the party’s hard-Left who currently run the show.
Long Bailey’s supporters like to remind people that Tony Blair was only 41 when he became Labour leader in 1994
So who is Rebecca Long Bailey? Born in Manchester as Rebecca Long, she never misses a chance to talk up her working-class roots.
The daughter of Irish parents, her father Jimmy unloaded oil from tankers at a refinery in Salford and became a trade union official.
Her mother Una is a lifelong Labour member.
Raised in Chester, she went to a Catholic secondary school and one of her first jobs was in a pawn shop in Ellesmere Port when she was 16.
There was an unhappy time as a waitress in a bar fending off sexual advances while collecting glasses from the tables.
‘They would be pinching your bottom and there were over-amorous members of staff – supervisors – thinking it was all right at the end of a shift to suggest you went for a drink which is not appropriate in the workplace,’ she later said.
Intent on being a solicitor, she worked in administration for a Manchester law firm, studying at weekends for her legal exams.
At Manchester University she was a politics and sociology student, then worked as a solicitor specialising in NHS contracts.
She married Steve Bailey, 47, who works from home for a chemical company so he can look after their six-year-old son Ronan.
Long Bailey appears to be inconsistent about whether or not to hyphenate her surname, doing so on her Twitter page but publishing election literature that separates the words.
After going to a Labour event with her mother ‘a light went on’, she later said, and she decided to run for Parliament, securing selection in 2015 for the safe seat of Salford.
Even then, her vaulting ambition was on show. Asked as a new Parliamentarian whether she saw herself as prime minister, she replied: ‘I can’t even answer that.’
Just four years on, she stood in for Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions. Her weak performance failed to land a blow on Theresa May’s deputy David Lidington.
Last year a dental company posted a photo of a smiling Long Bailey, revealing she had ‘just completed teeth straightening and complimentary whitening. Keep your eye out for her amazing new smile’.
That smile will twinkle even brighter if this Left-wing firebrand succeeds in becoming the anointed one and takes over the party leadership.
Rebecca Long Bailey wins the support of hard-Left figures as they back the ‘continuity Corbynite’ for Labour leader
By Daniel Martin Policy Editor for The Daily Mail
Rebecca Long Bailey’s campaign for the Labour leadership has won the support of senior hard-Left figures as they seek a ‘continuity Corbynite’ future for the party.
Len McCluskey, the leader of the Unite trade union, has named Miss Long Bailey as the ‘chosen one’ in secret talks with Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies.
Jon Lansman, the founder of pro-Corbyn group Momentum, has put himself forward to advise her, and it emerged at the weekend that she has appointed a self-declared Stalinist as her campaign director.
It comes as Miss Long Bailey, 40, faces embarrassing claims that she has been telling ‘tall tales’ about her working-class roots.
Labour’s business spokesman has said her outlook as a politician was shaped by watching her father worry about losing his job at Salford docks.
Rebecca Long Bailey’s campaign for the Labour leadership has won the support of senior hard-Left figures as they seek a ‘continuity Corbynite’ future for the part
In election leaflets, she declared: ‘My dad, Jimmy, worked on the Salford docks and I grew up watching him worrying when round after round of redundancies were inflicted on the docks.’
However, Miss Long Bailey was just two when the docks closed in 1982. A former docker said it was ‘impossible’ that she grew up watching the process of deindustrialisation.
A spokesman for Miss Long Bailey did not deny misleading voters, saying merely: ‘Rebecca, like many others in the North, saw first-hand the devastation created by Thatcher’s brutal economic regime.’
Lord Hattersley, Labour’s deputy leader in the 1980s, called on moderate MPs to refuse to work with Miss Long Bailey if she is elected.
‘Despite the obvious truth that Jeremy Corbyn must take the blame for the worst result in almost 100 years, Rebecca Long Bailey, his anointed successor, is the favourite to succeed him as party leader,’ he wrote in The Observer.
Jeremy Corbyn will step down as Labour leader once his successor has been elected next year
‘Her election, which is close to being certain, would be the public statement that Corbyn has gone but Corbynism lives on.’
Private union polling shows Miss Long Bailey is behind her two leadership rivals – Emily Thornberry and Sir Keir Starmer – but she is still seen by many as the favourite. She has already received the public backing of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who described her as ‘brilliant’.
It emerged at the weekend that Miss Long Bailey had appointed self-declared Stalinist Alex Halligan as her campaign manager.
In 2017, Mr Halligan was pictured at the Durham Miners’ Gala wearing a badge with the words ‘Good night Trotskyite’ and a picture of a man threatening another man with an ice pick, a reference to the assassination of Leon Trotsky ordered by Stalin.
Jon Lansman, the founder of pro-Corbyn group Momentum, has put himself forward to advise her, and it emerged at the weekend that she has appointed a self-declared Stalinist as her campaign director
‘Trotskyite’ is a term of abuse deployed by the most vehement supporters of Stalin. One source said: ‘Stalinists should have no place in the Labour Party.
‘Rebecca Long Bailey must reassess who is advising her, to reassure members that she is not simply a continuity candidate.’
Mr McCluskey, who has been nicknamed ‘Red Len’, held secret talks with some of Mr Corbyn’s closest allies – including his chief of staff Karie Murphy and director of strategy Seumas Milne.
They agreed that Miss Long Bailey was the best hope of carrying the Corbynista torch.
A senior moderate MP told The Sun on Sunday: ‘This is a stitch-up to make the next leader another Red Len puppet.
‘We’ll never return to power until we’ve got rid of the malign influence of Unite and the hard-Left.’
Miss Long-Bailey has said previously she would ‘love’ to rule the Labour Party with an ‘iron fist’.
She made the comment in an interview with the Salford Star when discussing criticism of her predecessors in parliament, Ian Stewart and Hazel Blears.
‘I can’t rule it with an iron fist, much as I’d love to,’ she said in the interview before her election as an MP in 2015.