Labour left activist Kate Osborne has been selected as Labour’s candidate in Jarrow, where she will stand for the safe seat instead of suspended Stephen Hepburn who has served as the MP since 1997.
Commenting on her selection, Osborne tweeted: “Jarrow desperately needs a Labour MP to stand up for local people. I’m thrilled to have been selected as the candidate and we are ready to fight the general election.
“My main priority now is to be out and about talking to voters campaigning tirelessly to keep a Labour MP here. I feel it is such an honour and am very humbled that the Labour Party has put its faith in me.”
Osborne is a member of Unite the Union’s executive council and had the support of Momentum, Unite, ASLEF and BFAWU, plus several shadow cabinet members, when she ran unsuccessfully for selection in Blyth Valley last month.
She worked as a Unite trade union rep at the Royal Mail, and has also served as a union representative on Labour’s highest disciplinary body – the national constitutional committee (NCC).
Her latest selection bid became controversial when it emerged that she had shared a meme in 2017 related to the film Pulp Fiction, showing Theresa May with a gun pointed to her head. Over 30 female Labour candidates requested that she not be endorsed a candidate.
Osborne apologised “unreservedly” for the post, adding: “As a woman, I am extremely concerned about the abuse and threats that women in politics face and if elected I will work with colleagues to challenge misogyny, hate and division in politics and beyond.”
The Tynemouth councillor was picked by a selection panel rather than through a vote of local members, as all recently selected parliamentary candidates have been due to the need for speedy processes ahead of the general election.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell allegedly wanted former political advisor Simon Fletcher to get the seat, according to a report by HuffPostUK.
Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) refused to endorse Stephen Hepburn, who is suspended from the party pending investigation of a sexual harassment complaint, as the Jarrow candidate – just as it did not approve Chris Williamson.
In 2017, Hepburn won the constituency with a majority of over 17,000 votes. Jarrow has returned a Labour MP at every election since 1935. Just four MPs have served the seat in those years, the first being education minister Ellen Wilkinson.