While UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is contemplating to enforce lockdown by the police, as it has become imperative with people not taking seriously the preventive measure of social distancing and staying inside, interestingly the Labour Party is going ahead with its programme of electing its new leader on April 4, to replace Jeremy Corbyn.

Pursuing the game of one-upmanship the Labour called for enforced social distancing measures and to take stronger action after pictures emerged of people flouting government advice to stay two metres apart whether inside or outside.

Significantly with the fight for the new Labour leader turning curious and acute the contenders for the leadership, besides striving to consolidate their position inside the party have also been targeting Boris on the issue of Coronavirus. This is purely an attempt to project the contender as a leader having inclusive broader perspective.

Keir Starmer, the Labour leadership frontrunner, demanded more action and also sought explanation from the government if it is unwilling to implement tough measures. He said “In these extraordinary times, the government must now set out further compliance measures, such as those introduced in other countries. These are vital days in the battle against the coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, rumours have been afloat that Boris Johnson was facing a cabinet mutiny over his decision not to enforce a lockdown. His spokesman said further measures may be brought in “if our analysis is that people haven’t stopped their interactions then we will take further measures”. On his part Boris thanked people for making sacrifices but said people must follow social distancing guidance. “If you don’t do it responsibly… we will have to bring forward further measures,” he said. His caution came as the number of UK deaths reached 281.

Though some time back senior Labour leader Tony Blair had pushed the political line of complete dissociation from Corbyn’s programmes and policies, the recent developments point to the contenders moving around Corbyn’s political priorities. It appears that there is a general understanding in the party that in the prevailing situation the left wing politics is best suited to counter the rightist agenda of the Conservatives and it will serve the interest of the party.

Though most of the leaders are scared of the future of the party, they run short of ideas and clear ideology which the party must follow. While they do not intend to be openly identified with Corbyn they are finding it difficult to discard his policies and programmes. Said an MP “it doesn’t mean that we need to jettison every policy, embrace the damaging economics of austerity or seek solace in past victories”.

These leaders feel “There is no future for the Labour party if the debate about our future becomes locked in an ideological battle between two competing visions of the past instead of building a new politics that can unite the country around a vision for the future”.

Allies of Jeremy Corbyn have been accused of trying to cement their power at the top of the party after they announced plans to appoint new staff to senior posts before the next leader is elected.

The move by Labour headquarters, under the control of general secretary Jennie Formby, has prompted suspicion that Corbyn’s supporters are trying to install their own people in key roles made vacant by departing staff, to ensure some continuity once Corbyn leaves in April, rather than letting a new leader fill the posts once in office.

The dispute reflects deep tensions between rival wings of the party – and supporters of the four remaining candidates for the leadership – over its future direction and structures.

Rebecca Long-Bailey is widely believed to have the backing of Corbyn himself and has already secured support of the grassroots pro-Corbyn movement Momentum. Last week she received a further boost, winning the endorsement of the country’s second biggest union, Unite.

Lisa Nandy, who has emerged as a strong challenger to both Starmer and Long-Bailey, will this week seek to position herself as the candidate with the best “green” credentials when she unveils plans to end all public funding for overseas fossil-fuel projects.

Rebecca Long-Bailey is championing a green industrial revolution, designed to create jobs and investment through schemes including home refurbishments, renewable energy and carbon capture. Seen as the “continuity Corbyn” candidate, she has said she would give the current leader 10/10. She has said Labour had a “great set of policies” at the election but got its presentation wrong.

The other candidate Keir Starmer has already warned the party not to “oversteer” away from Corbyn’s radical left policies as a result of the disastrous election result, which saw the party fall to its lowest share of seats since 1935. He has also portrayed himself as the candidate who can unite the party after years of infighting.

“Labour didn’t lose the last election because we promised to raise tax on the highest 5% of earners or to make corporations pay their fair share of tax,” he will say. “If elected Labour leader, I will want to work towards writing a tax and economic plan that is radical and relevant for the end of the 2020s and 2030s. However, I want to make a clear commitment now: we cannot step back from our core principles or commitment to build a fairer economy and society.

Keir Starmer, who helped steer Labour towards backing a second referendum, said that the debate around Leave or Remain was over. However, he accused the government of failing to tackle the issues that had led to the Brexit vote.

Jeremy Corbyn’s local Labour party has nominated Keir Starmer for the Labour leadership in a surprise result that confirms he is picking up crucial support from the party’s left. Some of Starmer’s supporters were said to be pushing his connection to the radical left wing publication Socialist Alternatives, which he edited in his early 20s.

Labour is under pressure to step up its efforts to ensure party members receive their leadership ballots amid widespread reports of glitches. The latest YouGov poll showed 67% of members joining since the election backed Keir Starmer – against 43% who joined in the previous four years.

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