Margaret Hodge has become the second Labour MP to be ‘triggered’ through the local trigger ballot votes, which means she is set to face a full selection process. The MP for Barking has confirmed her intention to seek selection.
Commenting on the result of the trigger votes, Hodge said: “I am obviously disappointed. My priority remains serving the people of Barking as I have done for the last 25 years.
“At a vital time for the country, with a general election looming, we should be focusing our efforts on holding Boris Johnson and the Tories to account. I will work to secure the full backing of Barking Labour Party, so I can continue to play my part as their MP in doing that.”
The threshold for ‘triggering’ Hodge was reached today. Six party branches voted in favour of automatic reselection – whereby Hodge would become the candidate without further votes – but five branches voted in favour of a full process.
Labour conference last year approved a rule change whereby a full selection takes place if at least one third of party branches or local affiliates vote for one – replacing a system that had set the threshold higher, at more than 50%.
According to a well-placed source, the branches in Barking Labour that voted against fast-tracking reselection saw low turnout for the votes, with fewer than ten members attending in more than one of those branches.
The pattern of small branches with low turnout contributing to a ‘trigger’ result was also seen in Diana Johnson’s local party, which opted to trigger the MP for Kingston upon Hull North earlier this month.
Mike Katz, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, commented: “Margaret Hodge has been a steadfast campaigner against racism, fascism and intolerance throughout her political life. She saw off the BNP in Barking, and has over the last few years been determined in her opposition to antisemitism within the Labour Party.
“This is a shameful moment for a party which claims to embody the values of equality and diversity. She has been the target of vicious smears, derision and antisemitism, because she has been resolute in her opposition to anti-Jewish racism.”
Harriet Harman MP, who is seeking election as the new Commons Speaker, tweeted: “Dismayed more than I can say by this. @margarethodge scourge of tax avoiders, racists & antisemitism. Champion of progressive policies. Hyperactive local MP. Surely this cannot stand!”
Corbynsceptic group Labour First has set up a sign-up form to kick off the organisation of Hodge’s reselection campaign, saying “no one could be a better Labour candidate for Barking at the next general election”.
Hodge will automatically be shortlisted in the ensuing selection contest, which will also be subject to an all-women shortlist as it has been ruled that this will apply to all ‘triggered’ female Labour MPs.
The MP for Barking has been a consistent critic of the Labour leadership, having called for a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn in June 2016 and subsequently backed Owen Smith in the leadership race.
She personally told Jeremy Corbyn that he was an “antisemite and racist” in the chamber last year. The confrontation took place after Labour’s national executive committee defied calls to abandon its new code of conduct on antisemitism.
At Labour conference at the start of the week, Hodge told a Jewish Labour Movement rally: “I’m not going to give up until Jeremy Corbyn ceases to be leader of the Labour Party.”
In September 2018, the Labour MP described the Labour leader as “the problem” but explained: “I’ve chosen at this point in time to stay and fight.” She added: “Labour has been such an important part of my life. 13 years in the Labour government and I think we achieved fantastic change. I’m not prepared to sacrifice that.”