Update, August 7th: Deputy leader of Southampton council Darren Paffey has been selected as the Labour candidate for Southampton Itchen.
With Southampton council swinging back to Labour in the local elections after one year of Tory rule, the city’s Itchen constituency will undoubtedly be a target at the next general election.
The seat is currently held by Tory MP Royston Smith, who was re-elected for a third time in 2019. He first won the seat in 2015 with a majority of 2,316 but came within a whisker of losing it two years later, receiving a majority of just 31 votes. In 2019, he increased his majority to more than 4,000, but the wide range of recent election results shows that a significant swing in the seat is highly possible. Prior to Smith’s election, the constituency had largely been represented by Labour MPs since its creation in 1950, most recently by John Denham between 1992 and 2015.
Southampton Itchen was announced as one of a second tranche of 21 seats in which the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) was allowed by the central party to get started on its selection process early. A shortlist has now been finalised and hustings are scheduled for August 7th – after which local members will vote for who they want to be Labour’s parliamentary candidate.
Hamid Khan made the shortlist. Khan is a programme manager at a charity working in the science sector. He completed his masters degree and PhD at the University of Southampton. Khan was raised in Newham, London. He was elected to the borough’s first youth council in 2007, serving as a youth councillor for one year.
Jay Morton has also made the cut. Morton is an architect based in London working on projects for local authority and private sector clients. She has campaigned for Generation Rent and Priced Out. She also helped run a series of talks in the Commons on behalf of the Fabian Society entitled ‘Glass Ceiling Not Glass Slipper’, which focused on what holds women back in the 21st century. She contested Chichester constituency at the 2019 election, coming in third behind the Tory and Lib Dem candidates.
Next on the list is Darren Paffey. Paffey is deputy leader of Southampton council. He represents Bargate ward on the council and currently serves as cabinet member for children and learning. He works as a lecturer in Spanish and linguistics at the University of Southampton, researching political media discourse. He contested Romsey and Southampton North constituency at the 2015 and 2017 elections, coming third behind the Tory and Lib Dem candidates on both occasions.
Miriam Rice has made it on to the shortlist, too. Rice is a Labour and Co-op Party councillor for Northolt Mandeville ward on Ealing council. First elected to the council in 2018, she was re-elected last year. Rice is currently serving as the vice-chair of the London Co-operative Party. She previously stood for selection as Labour’s candidate in Milton Keynes South, losing out to local councillor Emily Darlington, and as the candidate in Southampton Test, where Satvir Kaur was selected.
Finally, we have Bart van Es. Van Es is an English literature professor at the University of Oxford and senior tutor of St Catherine’s College, Oxford. His book The Cut Out Girl: a Story of War and Family, Lost and Found, which recounts his family’s wartime history, won Costa Book of the Year in the biography category in 2018. He stood as the Labour candidate for Cutteslowe and Sunnymead ward on Oxford council at the 2022 local elections, coming in second place to the Lib Dem candidate.