Poplar and Limehouse selection – runners and riders

The chances of an early election being called this week are rising by the hour, and the outcome looks more likely than ever now that Boris Johnson has told Tory rebels they will lose the whip and be deselected should they defy the government on Brexit legislation.

If there is a snap poll in October as so many now expect, it would then be expected Labour’s national executive committee would impose parliamentary candidates in seats where there is currently no sitting Labour MP or that representative is standing down.

Local party members in seats such as Poplar and Limehouse, where Jim Fitzpatrick (who voted for Theresa May’s deal) has chosen not to seek reselection as the Labour candidate, may not get the chance to vote. But it’s still worth looking at which activists are eyeing up the seat.

In a move that surprised some Labour members, Kate Hoey’s Vauxhall seat was not allocated an all-women shortlist by the NEC – despite the local party voting for one – but Fitzpatrick’s seat will be an AWS. The swaps caused controversy among those who argued that this kind of factional ‘horse-trading’ undermined the point of affirmative action processes.

In Poplar and Limehouse, the decision changed the dynamics of the selection race as previously the two frontrunners were male – Helal Uddin Abbas, former leader of Tower Hamlets Council, and Chris Weavers, former chair of the CLP. Howard Dawber, chair of Labour Friends of Bangladesh, was also thought to be interested.

The AWS decision was publicly criticised by Puru Miah, a Mile End ward councillor and Momentum member, who has argued that the use of AWS in Poplar is “basically a tactic to block Black men”.

Other BAME Labour organisers, such as Ibrahim Dogus who is seeking selection in Vauxhall, have also made the argument that AWS have held back BAME representation among parliamentary candidates in winnable seats.

Update, September 10th: The local party has voted to ask for the selection not to be subject to an AWS. This is unlikely to change the situation, but members are applying pressure on the NEC to reverse its decision.

In alphabetical order, here are the names doing the rounds in the local party now that it is an AWS seat. Some are confirmed as seeking selection, others not. This list will be continuously updated as tips come in…

Sabina Akhtar – Tower Hamlets councillor, Stepney Green ward, and cabinet member. Contacted LabourList to say: “I am a supporter of Corbyn and have voted for him… I am however not part of Momentum, locally or nationally.”

Amina Ali – Tower Hamlets councillor, Bow East ward, and council cabinet member. Momentum member. Definitely standing.

Asra Anjum – P&L CLP secretary and LCF secretary. Only rumoured to be interested.

Apsana Begum – Vice-chair (membership) of P&L CLP, a member of London Labour’s executive committee and Momentum’s national coordinating group. Born and raised in Tower Hamlets, she was until recently the CLP secretary. On the Labour left. Good chance of winning the selection and likely the best chance of securing NEC support.

Asma Begum – Tower Hamlets councillor, Bow West ward, and deputy mayor for community safety and equalities. GMB member.

Halima Begum – Environmental activist, chair of Women’s Environmental Network. Grew up in a squat in Brick Lane. Former youth worker. Anti-racism campaigner in Tower Hamlets and education specialist. Told LabourList about her application. Not a member of Momentum but supports its values and joined the party when Corbyn became leader.

Rachel Blake – Tower Hamlets councillor, Bow East ward, and deputy mayor for planning and air quality. Backed Yvette Cooper in 2015 and signed letter calling for Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation in 2016. Favoured by Corbynsceptics. Has confirmed her application via a video.

Sabina Khan – Former councillor in Brent, during which time she was criticised by Labour members for low attendance of council meetings – though Khan says it was good until affected by illness in the last few months. Thought to have lived in the area for around a year.

Suzy Stride – Brought up in Tower Hamlets on a council estate. Christian. Stood as Labour candidate for Harlow in 2015. Favoured by local Corbynsceptics, but thought to have a lower chance of success than Rachel Blake.

Deeba Syed – Sexual harassment lawyer and Labour member in neighbouring Bethnal Green and Bow. Went on the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme. Only rumoured to be interested.

If you want to tell LabourList that you are standing and want to be on this list, or definitely not standing and want that confirmation to be added to this piece, get in touch via Twitter or email us.

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