Labour NEC refuses to endorse Williamson, Hepburn and Godsiff

Sienna Rodgers

Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) has decided not to endorse a number of parliamentary candidates at its meeting today ahead of the upcoming general election.

LabourList understands that suspended MPs Chris Williamson and Stephen Hepburn have been barred from standing, as well as ‘triggered’ MP Roger Godsiff who had not been automatically reselected by local members.

New Labour candidates for their three seats – Derby North, Jarrow and Birmingham Hall Green – will be selected by panels made up of NEC, regional board and local party representatives.

Williamson was suspended from the party three times – the latest being in September – over accusations that he had minimised antisemitism. He had told a Momentum event that Labour was “too apologetic” on the issue.

Hepburn was suspended from Labour following a sexual harassment claim that the MP denies. His case has been referred to the party’s national constitutional committee (NCC).

Godsiff, who recently sided with protesters opposing LGBT-inclusive education in primary schools in Birmingham, became the third MP to have their local party choose a full selection contest over fast-tracked reselection.

The other triggered MPs who had, like Godsiff, not yet completed their selection races – Emma Lewell-Buck, Kate Osamor and Virendra Sharma – were endorsed by the NEC as Labour candidates.

No decision has yet been made as to whether the NEC will endorse Keith Vaz, who was given a six-month ban from parliament last week, as a parliamentary candidate. An update is expected in the coming days, when an NEC panel offers a ruling.

LabourList also understands that Sally Gimson, the pro-Remain activist from Camden selected to stand for Labour in Bassetlaw, has not been endorsed and will not be able to stand as a candidate.

It is understood that the basis for not endorsing Gimson is partly that complaints have been made about her behaviour, including an allegation that she shouted at a disabled party member at a Holborn and St Pancras Labour branch meeting.

Gimson denies the claims made against her. In a statement, she said she had been “thrown out on trumped up charges that only came to light five days ago”, adding: “From the outset, I was not the preferred candidate”.

Gimson said she was informed on November 1st that the NEC had received a series of internal complaints from her home CLP, Holborn and St Pancras, and was re-interviewed via a telephone conversation on November 4th.

According to a well-placed source, at least one of the complaints was submitted by Maryam Eslamdoust, the Camden mayor who is both a party member in Holborn and St Pancras and works for Labour in its headquarters.

“I was threatened not to tell anyone about what was happening and the consequences of this have kept me silent so far,” Gimson’s statement continued. “I have been condemned by a kangaroo court. Transparency, openness and democracy has been thrown out of the window.”

The selection result in Leave-voting Bassetlaw had come as a surprise to many, as Unite-backed Ashfield councillor Keir Morrison was expected to win. It was thought that Gimson was included as a ‘paper candidate’.

“Congratulations to Sally Gimson, Highgate Cllr selected as Bassetlaw Labour candidate,” retiring MP John Mann tweeted at the time. “Momentum stitch up doesn’t give them the result they expected.”

The local party chairs and secretaries in both Holborn and St Pancras and Bassetlaw have issued statements in support of Sally Gimson and have asked the NEC to reconsider its refusal to endorse her candidacy.

LabourList understands that the decision not to approve Gimson was made by a Labour NEC ‘Org Sub’ panel composed of Momentum’s Jon Lansman, the TSSA’s Andi Fox and GMB’s Sarah Owen.

This is a developing story, which will be updated as further details emerge…

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