LabourList has been sent the following shortlist of five candidates for Labour’s Ilford South parliamentary selection race:
- Rajni Chodha – Immigration solicitor, active in the local Hindu temple
- Neeraj Patil – Former Lambeth mayor, Labour’s 2017 candidate in Putney
- Syeda Rahim – Specialist caseworker for Citizen’s Advice, lives in St Albans
- Kam Rai – Redbridge deputy council leader and councillor for Goodmayes Ward
- Sam Tarry – TSSA officer, president of CLASS think tank, worked on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaigns
Ilford South has been described locally as one of the most fiercely fought selection campaigns ever. At the start of the month, the process was paused on the day that it had been intended to conclude because Jas Athwal, the candidate favoured by Corbynsceptics, was suspended from the party on the eve of the vote.
Athwal, the local council leader, was suspended over “extremely serious allegations” related to a sexual harassment complaint. But due to the timing of the decision to suspend Athwal, it was described by backers such as Wes Streeting as an “undemocratic stitch up”.
Kam Rai, who has now entered the race, tweeted – in response to the leader of Brent Council Mo Butt – that the party suspension pending investigation was “colonial divide and rule”. He also appeared to describe the complaint as a “cranks fantasy”.
Following an intervention by Jeremy Corbyn according to Labour sources, it was decided that applications would be reopened. Tarry and Rahim were in the original race – the others now shortlisted were not shortlisted last time.
Sam Tarry has strong trade union backing, with endorsements from GMB, Unite, TSSA, CWU, BFAWU, ASLEF and Musicians’ Union. He is also backed by Momentum and John McDonnell – as well as Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and other senior Labour MPs.
Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate, with whom Tarry has worked, recently defended the Labour left-favoured candidate against criticism. Lowles tweeted that Tarry was “one of the most decent and committed anti-racists I know”.
Deputy council leader and cabinet member Kam Rai has the backing of the local party chair, local councillor Namreen Chaudry, and many other councillors, plus neighbouring MP Wes Streeting and shadow cabinet member Jon Ashworth. The financial advisor also has the support of Athwal, and is essentially considered to be his replacement in the race.
Neeraj Patil, a doctor, was Lambeth mayor from 2010 to 2011 and has experience running as a parliamentary candidate. But the picture on his Wikipedia page, which shows him posing with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, may divide members.
It is thought that the selection race, which will see a new Labour candidate replace Change UK’s Mike Gapes, is set to ultimately result in a battle between Tarry and Rai.