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By Ben Guerin
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Labour MPs Vie To Become Chair Of Enlarged PLP

Jessica Morden, Labour MP for Newport East (Credit: Jeff Morgan / Alamy)

4 min read

With John Cryer stepping down from the role of Parliamentary Labour Party chair, the contest to succeed him has begun.

Whoever secures the job will be responsible for heading up the 412 Labour MPs who won seats at last week's General Election — the largest number of Labour MPs elected to Parliament since Tony Blair's victory in 2005. The role is similar to the 1922 Committee chair position in the parliamentary Conservative party.

Jessica Morden, the Labour MP for Newport East and current parliamentary private secretary to Prime Minister Keir Starmer, is regarded to be the No 10 preference for the post. Clive Efford, chair of the Tribune group of MPs, has told colleagues he will also run.

Morden is the favourite to win, as the vast number of new Labour MPs are thought likely to go with the leadership’s choice. She has also built up a good reputation as Starmer’s PPS.

“People like her. She’s very fair,” said a Labour MP supportive of Morden. “If she wins, No 10 shouldn’t take it as a sign of their own success. It’ll be because of the following she’s built up over the years by listening.”

Praising her approach to the PPS role, they added: “If you wanted to meet with Keir, she would arrange it. She was very open, and whenever you asked for something she tried her best.”

Efford is understood to have messaged many colleagues about his bid and is thought well-placed to secure the backing of Black and Asian MPs, described by one source as “very anti-establishment right now” due to anger over the party’s Gaza positioning. Efford “took the leadership to task on Gaza” at a recent meeting, one MP said.

As the alternative to the No 10 candidate, the Tribune chair may also get votes from Labour left MPs.

“I actually like Jess. But seems unfair it’s a de facto No 10 appointment. Surely in government it's even more important that it’s the independent decision of the PLP,” a Labour MP from the party’s left said.

“It’s important that MPs have someone independent from leadership they can go to. Sometimes you need someone not in the whips or front bench as an honest broker,” said another Labour MP who intends to vote for Efford.

“Clive was at the forefront of Keir’s campaign but has raised difficult issues so straddles the divide,” they added. “If he gets more than two-thirds, that will be a victory for those who want an independent PLP.”

Many of the votes of re-elected MPs will come down to personal relationships rather than factional allegiances, however.

There was also speculation that Dawn Butler could run, but she has decided against it.

Butler told PoliticsHome: “I have been approached to stand as the unity candidate. I seriously considered it. But I will not be standing as I have other things I would like to do.

“I will be standing for parliamentary committee and chair of a select committee when the opportunity arises.”

It is unclear when exactly the PLP chair election will be held but it is expected to come before the King’s Speech on 17 July, making Monday 15 a likely time for the vote.

MPs are also vying to become deputy speaker of the Commons, with all three deputies from the last parliament having retired (Eleanor Laing and Rosie Winterton) or lost their seat (Nigel Evans) at the election.

PoliticsHome understands that Labour MP Judith Cummins is planning to put herself forward for the role. Sharon Hodgson confirmed her own bid on Tuesday.

Both are seen as allies of their party leadership, with Hodgson having served as Starmer’s PPS from 2021 to 2023. Cummins has had practice in the Speaker’s chair, being chosen as “temporary deputy speaker” in the last parliament.

From the Conservative side, Caroline Nokes, who was chair of the Women and Equalities Committee until the election, has already declared her intention to run for deputy speaker.

The date for the deputy speaker election is typically announced around the time of the King’s Speech.

There will also be elections for select committee chairs. Their allocation to parties is set to be revealed 31 July. The BBC has reported that it is likely to give 17 to Labour, five to the Conservatives and five for others.

Committee chair nominations will close in the first two weeks of September, while the final ballot will be held the day after nominations close, by 17 September.

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