Ilford South Labour asks for open selection to replace Mike Gapes

Sienna Rodgers

Ilford South Labour has asked for an open selection process so that it can “select the very best local candidate, regardless of their race or gender”.

Executive committee officers have written to Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby and the chair of Labour’s national executive committee, Unison rep Wendy Nichols, setting out their demands.

In the letter, the elected officers argue that the “active membership” of the local party should be able to elects its own selection committee and not be restricted by the imposition of an all-women shortlist.

The request comes after local MP Mike Gapes left Labour to join The Independent Group last week.

Streatham Labour, Chuka Umunna’s former local party, has made the same request, having written to Formby and chair Ian Lavery last week to ask for a local debate on whether an all-women shortlist should be used.

Below is the full text of the letter sent by CLP officers to general secretary Jennie Formby and NEC chair Wendy Nichols.

Dear Jennie and Wendy,

It has been a difficult week in Ilford South, we have been left without a Labour MP for the first time in over 27 years and are now facing an uncertain future. That is why we write to you as Officers of the Executive Committee of Ilford South General Committee, to make clear our position and our commitment to securing the best possible representation for the residents of Ilford South.

Ilford South is a proud and active CLP. Our meetings are well attended, and our members are passionate and vocal about the Labour values we share. We have been let down this past week by our MP, Mike Gapes, who we supported through 7 General Elections and countless difficult votes. Although our membership has not always been aligned with Mike’s views we have worked hard, knocking on doors and phone banking to ensure we first became, and, more recently, remained a Labour stronghold.

Our membership remains committed to the Labour Party and to upholding the values of fairness and equality Labour has always fought for. We write in trust and belief that the NEC considers these values when determining the selection procedure for our Ilford South Labour candidate.

We ask:

  • That our active membership is given the right to elect our own selection committee, made up of local people who have long supported Labour in Ilford South.
  • That the selection remains open, so our members are given the opportunity to select the very best local candidate, regardless of their race or gender.
  • For the freedom and agency to ensure our next Labour MP reflects the values and diversity of our constituency.

We ask that our NEC respect the right of Ilford South members to choose who will represent us in Parliament. As Jeremy Corbyn said at the 2017 Labour Party conference:

“For people to take control of their own lives, our democracy needs to break out of Westminster into all parts of our society and economy where power is unaccountable… The kind of democracy that we should be aiming for is one where people have a continuing say in how society is run.”

We believe it is a privilege to represent our constituency and the wonderful people who live here, and we want to work with the NEC and with all local members and affiliates to ensure that our next Labour MP is local, committed to Labour values and shares our passion for, and pride in, Ilford South.

Yours sincerely,

Namreen Chaudhry, CLP Chair
Catherine Rowan, CLP Secretary
Alex Holmes, CLP Vice Chair Membership
Vanisha Solanki, CLP Vice Secretary
Muhammed Iqbal, CLP Treasurer

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