Kate Osamor has become the latest Labour MP to be ‘triggered’ by party members, after branches in Edmonton Labour voted against automatic reselection of their current representative and in favour of holding a full selection contest.
The MP for Edmonton, who is largely considered to be on the left of the party and supportive of the leadership though also a vocal anti-Brexit campaigner, will be a candidate in the ensuing selection contest with an all-women shortlist.
As in South Shields, where Emma Lewell-Buck is set to face a full selection process, the divisions in Edmonton cannot be accurately described as running along traditional factional lines. Instead, it is widely agreed that the result is attributable to specific local dynamics.
Critics of Osamor claim that she is not present enough in the constituency, does not attend as many party meetings as they would like and did not make efforts to organise members ahead of the trigger ballot meetings.
One local member told LabourList that the MP had aligned herself with members on the Labour left in Enfield who do not turn out to meetings in sufficiently large numbers. The source said it was perceived that Osamor had alienated too many groups in the local party, including members of the Turkish-speaking community.
Supporters of the sitting MP say that this result emanates from tensions that have been present for a number of years in the constituency, and that it is linked to events in the borough of Enfield – where there were controversial council deselections last year.
The Enfield Labour votes in 2018 saw sitting black councillors deselected, which led to complaint letters sent to the party by groups such as the Enfield Caribbean Association, the Enfield Somalis, and the Nigerian Community in Enfield. Council leader Doug Taylor was also replaced by Nesil Caliskan.
Following these developments, in July 2018 The Sunday Times referred to a “clan” in its report on the selection of members from the Alevi community, which led to a defamation claim by Caliskan and an apology from the paper last month.
Those local members who supported the changes on Enfield Council are thought to have also led the drive to trigger a full selection process in the Edmonton constituency. They include Labour activists who had supported Osamor’s selection bid in 2015.
People on both sides of the row agree that the local dynamics are neither solely factional nor simply created by tensions between minority ethnic or religious groups, but that the situation is much more complicated than often described.
Osamor was Shadow International Development Secretary, and had been working on the introduction of an explicitly feminist approach to that brief, until she resigned from the shadow cabinet in December 2018.
The decision to quit was made after it was revealed that her son, employed as a senior communications officer, had been convicted on drug charges. The Times also reported that Osamor told a doorstepping journalist to “f*** off”, threw a bucket of water at him and said she should “smash his face in”.
Local sources have said these factors did not particularly come into play in the trigger ballot result. Osamor now sits as a backbench MP and has been active in the anti-Brexit ‘Love Socialism’ parliamentary group.
So far, the other Labour MPs who have been ‘triggered‘ are Diana Johnson, Margaret Hodge, Roger Godsiff and Emma Lewell-Buck. Four out of five have been women, and most of those sitting MPs considered likely to be triggered next are also women.