Labour candidates raise concerns over official leadership hustings

Sienna Rodgers

Complaints are being raised by high-profile Labour figures – including candidate Keir Starmer – over the official leadership hustings timetable released over the weekend.

Shadow cabinet member and leadership contest frontrunner Starmer has written to Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby and national executive committee chair Andi Fox with his concerns.

“I am disappointed that the party has chosen not to organise leadership hustings in every Labour Party region and nation,” his letter reads, before adding: “I am concerned that this decision does not reflect well on the party”.

Starmer has called on the procedures committee – made up NEC officers and Formby – to reconsider the schedule that has been published by Labour and commit instead to hold an event in every region and nation.

On Saturday, Lisa Nandy tweeted: “The Labour leadership campaign can send a powerful message to the country about whether we are ready to listen. We can start by putting some of our hustings events in the places we need to win back.”

She added: “If we’re planning a hustings in Wales, why not north Wales where we lost seats? If we’re planning a hustings in Manchester, why not have them in Bury or Bolton?”

Leadership candidate Jess Phillips said: “It will take a lot more than holding a local hustings to win back trust in the seats we lost at the general election, but it would be a start. Let’s have more events in every region and nation – and not just in big cities!”

Jim McMahon, who hosted Starmer’s campaign launch in Oldham on Saturday, said: “It wouldn’t be practical to hold meetings in every sub region, or even in every seat we lost. But it’s odd that not every region will have a hustings for members to attend.”

Rory Palmer, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, has also written to the general secretary to complain. He took to Twitter to deny that was a “trivial” matter, arguing that it sends a message to voters in excluded areas.

“Just not good enough for members in constituencies like Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Mansfield, Calder Valley and Rother Valley to name a few to face expense train journeys with two or three train changes to get to a hustings,” Palmer tweeted.

The leadership hustings timetable released on Sunday:

  • Saturday 18 January – Liverpool
  • Saturday 25 January – Durham
  • Saturday 1 Feb – Bristol
  • Sunday 2 Feb – Cardiff
  • Sunday 9 Feb – Birmingham
  • Saturday 15 Feb – Glasgow
  • Sunday 16 Feb – London

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