Confusion reigns over selections in retirement and defector seats in London

Sienna Rodgers

Wes Streeting told parliamentary colleagues in London this week that, according to advice he received from London Labour on Wednesday, parliamentary candidates for retirement or defector seats in the city will not be selected until after the mayoral election in May 2020.

In an email to London Labour MPs, sent as chair of the London group, Streeting said the party would not have candidates in place in Streatham, Enfield North or Ilford South “for at least nine months”. He also informed colleagues that regional staff have apparently “not received guidance on trigger ballots in a timely fashion” and starting the reselection process before summer would be “a struggle”.

LabourList made enquiries following sight of the email and understands that selection processes in two of the defector seats in London – now represented by Liberal Democrat Chuka Umunna, and Change UK’s Joan Ryan and Mike Gapes – will in fact be starting next week. Final guidance is still being awaited, but the plan is not for the selections to only start after May 2020.

Streeting noted in his email that London region appears to be “stretched in terms of their own capacity”, which would be particularly problematic during trigger ballots, selections for seats that do not currently have candidates in place, and London Assembly selections. A well-placed source has denied that London region is more stretched than any other regional party.

Local members in the defector and retirement seats – Ealing North, Enfield North, Ilford South, Poplar and Limehouse, Streatham, Vauxhall – have expressed confusion over the timing of selections. Candidates and members of constituency parties have told LabourList that they feel the same about the GLA selections.

This is particularly the case in Enfield North, where LabourList understands that party members have been considering a vote of no confidence in London regional director Hazel Flynn because they there are concerned that the selection process is being purposefully delayed.

It is thought that the Labour left in Joan Ryan’s seat already have a candidate in mind for the selection – Delia Mattis – and are worried that an early election could lead to a different candidate being imposed by the national executive committee (NEC).

Commenting on the claims, a London Labour spokesperson said: “It is completely false that London region have attempted to delay the selection of Enfield North. We have begun work already on the selection in that area and we look forward to working with the CLP over the coming weeks.”

Below is the full text of Wes Streeting’s message on Thursday to Labour London MPs. 

Dear London colleagues,

At yesterday’s drop-in with Hazel Flynn and London Region, it was apparent that the regional staff have not received guidance on trigger ballots in a timely fashion; that it will be a struggle to start the process before summer; and that – while it is hoped that the process will be resolved by Christmas – we will not be selecting candidates in retirement seats or defector seats until after May’s London mayoral election.

This means that we will not have candidates in place in Streatham (where we stand a real risk of losing to the Lib Dems), Enfield North or Ilford South for at least nine months. It also means that we could be in the middle of selections during a snap election. This is unacceptable. It’s also clear that Region share our concerns and are very stretched in terms of their own capacity.

I will be writing to Jeremy, Tom, Jennie, Hazel and Wendy today as chair of the London Group and will keep you informed.


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