Starmer allies deny blocking left-wing candidates from standing for Labour

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Keir Starmer’s allies have denied claims that the leadership is intervening in selection processes to stop left-wing members standing as parliamentary candidates for the Labour Party in the next general election.

According to reports in The Guardian this morning, supporters of the Labour leader have rejected the accusation that Starmer is acting to prevent “anyone to the left of Tony Blair” standing as a representative of the party.

“What does Keir really want in government? He wants a [Parliamentary Labour Party] that has people who have something to offer the country, but of course it’s natural that he wants a PLP that is united and not engaged in factional war,” one Labour source told the paper.

LabourList revealed earlier this year that 14 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) had been given the go-ahead to begin selecting their parliamentary candidates. Another 21 local parties were given the green light in May.

Recent selections have caused controversy, however, as those excluded from the processes have included members who already represent the party – including councillors as well as deputy leaders and leaders of local authorities.

The executive of the local party in Wakefield resigned after deputy council leader Jack Hemingway was left off the shortlist after concerns were raised about his social media. Stroud council leader Doina Cornell was also taken out of the running for her local seat over her support for Jeremy Corbyn in relation to antisemitism.

“Due diligence is about weeding out candidates who could cause electoral damage when the election comes. It’s setting a minimum standard that the public expects,” a Labour spokesperson said, adding: “All candidates have been clearly told why they haven’t been included.”

Deputy leader of Hastings Council, Maya Evans, released a statement saying she had “not been given any specific reason or evidence” as to why she did not make the longlist for Hastings. She also said there was a “growing pattern of left-wing BAME women” being prevented from standing by the national party.

“In Hastings two BAME women have been blocked, despite enjoying significant local and trade union support. No justification has been given for my exclusion,” she said.

Asked why sitting councillors elected under the previous Labour leadership were being ruled out as parliamentary candidates, a Starmer ally told The Guardian: “Just because they met his standards, doesn’t mean they meet ours.”

Former MP Lisa Forbes said in a statement last week that “the Labour leadership have decided not to allow me to continue in my bid to be your MP again”. It is thought this is in relation to her previous comments on antisemitism.

Jewish Labour Movement chair Mike Katz tweeted last month, highlighting that Forbes had opposed adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism and had liked a social media post in that claimed Theresa May had a “Zionist slave masters agenda”. Forbes apologised at the time.

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