Mary Foy selected as Labour’s candidate for City of Durham

Trade unionist Mary Foy was selected today as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for City of Durham, and will hope to succeed retiring incumbent Roberta Blackman-Woods as the MP for the North East constituency.

The Gateshead councillor and parliamentary assistant to Stephen Hepburn MP won the race against City of Durham party vice-chair and NHS nurse Angela Hankin, Durham councillor and Labour organiser Maura McKeon, and London pharmacist Taiwo Owatemi.

The vote was a tie after second preferences were counted, but Foy won the selection after the number of first preferences awarded was taken into account and she had one more.

In a campaign letter to members, Foy described herself as a “working class woman, raised on a council estate in Jarrow, the daughter of Irish migrants” who can “understand the problems facing many people due to years of neglect following the closure of the pits in the 1980s”.

The newly selected candidate is a local party chair, regional representative on Labour’s national policy forum, councillor and cabinet member, governor of an NHS trust and member of Unite and Unison. Her bid was supported by Unite, CWU, ASLEF, FBU and BFAWU.

Labour’s selection contest in City of Durham had left a number of members – particularly on the Labour left – frustrated as a candidate favoured by some, Hannah Walter, was not included on the longlist drawn up centrally by the national executive committee.

Ben Sellers, who works for neighbouring MP and frontbencher Laura Pidcock, tweeted at the time that he was “disappointed” by Walter’s exclusion. She had been backed by the CLP chair and ten other members of the executive committee.

Nonetheless, Sellers commented on the result today saying he was “chuffed” for “one of the kindest and most giving people I know”. Laura Pidcock herself endorsed Foy’s selection bid.

Current representative Blackman-Woods is one of the sixteen Labour MPs not seeking reselection as a candidate ahead of the next general election. First elected in 2005, she told members in July that it was “time to move on largely for family and personal reasons”.

Labour’s majority in the seat is currently over 12,000 votes. City of Durham has returned Labour MPs exclusively since 1935, though produced a majority of only around 3,000 in the 2005 and 2010 elections when the Liberal Democrats made significant gains.

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