Labour members in Coventry North West defied expectations by delivering a surprise result on Saturday when they selected a Londoner as their parliamentary candidate.
The local party was presented with a shortlist of two members – a choice between Taiwo Owatemi, a London pharmacist, and Des Arthur, a CWU rep and former postal worker from Coventry.
The shortlist was supposed to have been drawn up by a mixed panel of national, regional and local executive representatives. But the local party chair withdrew from the shortlisting meeting, describing it as an “unclean process”.
The plan of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) “hilariously backfired”, one member commented. It is thought locally that the ruling body had shortlisted Owatemi expecting the party not to consider a non-local.
The longlist, which was produced by a panel of Labour NEC members, initially caused controversy among local members and retiring incumbent Geoffrey Robinson MP submitted a formal complaint.
Ultimately, Owatemi won 65 votes from Coventry North West members, while Arthur lost narrowly with 60 votes cast in his favour.
Matt Innes, a local member, tweeted: “We in the CLP refused to be influenced and chose on merit – we’re proud to have an articulate & passionate young woman to represent us and our city.”
Following the result, Owatemi tweeted: “I’m pleased to have been selected as @UKLabour candidate from @WestClp. I’d like to thank @desarthur4covnw for running such a gracious campaign and wish him all the best.
“I’d also like to thank everyone who campaigned and voted for me. Looking forward to keeping the seat red.”
Arthur tweeted: “Congratulations @Tai_temi for becoming the PPC for Coventry North West. I am proud that I ran an engaging and positive campaign with no negative campaigning and upheld the values that I hold. I will be out on the doorstep to help deliver a labour government.”