Graham urges “timid” Labour to “keep punching” government on cost of living

Elliot Chappell
© Twitter/@UniteSharon
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Labour has been “too timid” in helping struggling families and must set out a clear alternative to the Tories, Sharon Graham has warned. In an interview with The Mirror, the general secretary of Unite, which is the party’s largest affiliate, said she wanted “to shake” Keir Starmer’s top team so they “keep punching” the government over the cost-of-living crisis. “They’ve got to listen to the screaming voices of those who didn’t vote,” she said, commenting on the recent local election results. “They’re not going to win unless they reconnect with working class voters.”

In internal Labour news, the party has narrowed down its list of potential candidates for the Wakefield by-election to four: Kate Dearden, Simon Lightwood, Sam Howarth and Rachael Kenningham. Deputy leader of the council Jack Hemingway and fellow locals Michael Graham and Jakob Williamson did not make the cut.

The leadership has been accused of blocking the pro-Jeremy Corbyn candidate Hemingway. HuffPost UK reported that the leader’s office is concerned about his social media. In a now deleted post from 2018, Hemingway wrote that adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism would be “disastrous”. In another he called for the former leader of the party to have his membership reinstated – shortly before Corbyn was readmitted. “I’m a committed anti-racist and I think antisemitism is a scourge that should be eradicated,” Hemingway said. “I’ve never hid the fact that I supported Jeremy Corbyn for leader and I voted for Rebecca Long-Bailey to be deputy…but I have always respected Keir’s right to lead the party.”

The selection process for Stretford and Urmston has also kicked off. Labour is seeking a candidate to replace incumbent Kate Green, who announced she will step down at the next election. Members have until May 21st to apply. Longlisting will take place on May 25th and shortlisting on June 13th before members vote for their parliamentary candidate on June 26th. Leader of Trafford Council Andrew Western has launched his campaign. Urmston ward councillor Jo Harding has also said she will stand and Oxford City Council deputy leader and climate lead Tom Hayes, from Salford, is expected to announce this weekend.

As LabourList revealed earlier this year, the national executive committee approved a tranche of seats in which selection processes could begin early. In addition to the two above, the race to find a candidate for Gedling constituency is also underway. Members will vote to determine both the Gedling and Wakefield candidates this weekend. LabourList will be bringing our readers the latest as we see more selection processes come forward. So keep your eyes peeled and, if you are thinking of standing or know someone who is, you can always drop me and email and my DMs are open.

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